SpaceX has expanded its product portfolio with a new offering called Swarm. The new service provides global connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and costs just $5 per month.
SpaceX acquired Swarm Technologies last year, which has 120 of their SpaceBEE satellites in low-earth orbit. The satellites are the smallest operational satellites in space and can fit in the palm of your hand, measuring at just ¼U (11 x 11 x 2.8 cm).
Unlike their traditional Starlink offering, Swarm provides low-bandwidth connectivity using the tiny satellites, which provide reliable global network coverage with their sun-synchronous orbital planes.
Due to their small size and low bandwidth use, Swarm costs just $5 per month, not including the cost of hardware, which also unlike Starlink hardware is relatively cheap.
There is the Swarm M138 Model at an introductory price of $89 USD. It can be embedded in any IoT device.
Also available is the Swarm Eval Kit for $449 USD, which is an “out-of-the-box kit for messaging and IoT product development.”
Finally there is the Swarm Asset Tracker for $99 USD, allowing you to track location data anywhere in the world.
So what exactly is IoT and what is the use case for SpaceX Swarm?
According to the Oxford Language Dictionary, IoT is “the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.”
Some common examples are smart thermostats, smart appliances, smart lighting and other smart electronic devices that can be controlled remotely via computers and smartphones.
These types of IoT devices are typically connected to your home WiFi however, but where Swarm comes in handy is when you want to be able to control devices in remote areas where there is no reliable internet connection. Some uses cases cited by Swarm are in the agriculture, maritime, energy, environmental, and transportation sectors.
The Swarm Asset Tracker could also be a big seller for SpaceX for any company that wants to be able to track their cargo shipments in real time as they go around the world.
Swarm isn’t intended for your average user, but rather enterprise customers that will likely buy hundreds or even thousands of these devices. SpaceX has set up a calculator to let potential customers calculate the savings of using Swarm compared to other offerings.
With their default settings of connecting 500 IoT devices and using just 150KB of data per month per device, SpaceX says you would save $22,500 per month, or 90% of your typical monthly cost with a legacy provider.
Extrapolate that out to one year and a company could save $270,000 per year with SpaceX Swarm.
You can read more and order Swarm at swarm.space.