Inside Innovation: Skylo Hackathon yields clever (and useful) IoT applications

Andrew Nuttall
CTO & Co-founder
July 12, 2021

It’s true that Skylo has rewritten the economics of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity through narrowband satellite communications. We are also driven to do more—creatively. To prove that narrowband data connectivity isn’t just for classic applications such as location services and temperature monitoring, we recently hosted our inaugural Skylo Hackathon, with impressive results. 

The rules

The hackathon was open to anyone at Skylo, from finance to engineering to HR. The rules were pretty simple: 

1- Create a new application using the Skylo solution

2- Limit the budget to less than $100 USD

3- Live solution within 48 hours

Building the new applications proved to be pretty simple, as well. Using Skylo’s drag-and-drop development tool, non-technical users were able to easily build and customize their IoT apps quickly; our graphical interface brings together an entire ecosystem of IoT components to streamline development and unleash creativity.

Graphical user interface, applicationDescription automatically generated

The winners are …

Almost a dozen teams signed up for the hackathon. It was difficult to choose three winners from such an impressive field, but we managed. 

The Hackathon winners are:

First prize: The winning team used Skylo to stake out our parking lot with smart IoT surveillance. Traditional video surveillance is continuous, racking up significant transmission and storage fees. Smart IoT surveillance with Skylo detects objects as they enter into the monitored area and then generates a live report, transmitting short bursts of information over the narrowband satellite network—saving untold costs compared to live feeds and never-ending video storage. Surveillance and processing was all done at the edge.

Using an inexpensive 1080P security camera connected to a local processing unit running machine learning algorithms, the winning solution was able to detect and classify all of the objects in our parking lot, including my bicycle when I rolled up, and generate live reports of how many cars and people were present in the lot throughout the day. 

Image processing is a natural fit for high-bandwidth 5G wireless systems, and image classification unlocks extraordinary value in IoT. Use cases range from security (object detection), energy (deployment of safety measures) and agriculture (drone surveillance crop health) are just a few of the novel applications now possible with narrowband IoT solutions. This kind of edge-first computing will not only improve the efficiency and profitability of businesses, but it will also help to better the lives of consumers around the world.

Second prize: Team 2 did a riff on fuel efficiency, focusing on a key cost driver in the logistics industry: incorrectly inflated tires. Did you know that: 

  1. A truck’s fuel efficiency is directly correlated to correct tire pressure. 
  2. There is 2% loss in fuel efficiency per one-pound deviation in tire PSI.
  3. The average tire is mis-inflated at around three PSI.
  4. In a trillion-dollar industry with the average asset performing at 6% below its peak, consolidated tire pressuring monitoring, at scale, promises to make a huge impact with its slam-dunk ROI. 

For this solution, the team put $10 air pressure sensors into tires, measuring and reporting PSI data at 10-minute intervals. The data was stored in the cloud, and could easily be piped into the Skylo Data Platform for visual analysis. In this way, fleet owners can monitor this key variable in the aggregate, with drill-down to the individual truck level.

Third prize: Team 3 tackled a significant problem in the global fisheries market by bringing online a fish catch weighing & reporting feature. They were able to report the type of fish, quantity, and weight through a handheld weight sensor, which then relayed that data back over satellite to an online platform while the fishermen were still out at sea. 

Real-world value

The creative solutions developed for the Skylo Hackathon have significant commercial potential, moving IoT technology beyond traditional monitoring applications into a new realm of cost savings and revenue generation. For example:

  • Team 1’s solution can be used to surveil for wildfires, providing constant video monitoring without the cost of constant image transmission or storage. If fire is spotted, an alert can be immediately transmitted in even the remotest forests, thanks to narrowband IoT connectivity. 
  • Team 2’s tire-pressure monitoring application can help fleet owners to very closely manage the performance of vehicular assets, a strategic improvement over traditional tire sensors that typically only alert drivers of dangerous tire pressure loss. 
  • Team 3’s traceability of where fish are caught and sold is a major global initiative that looks for transparency by the end of this decade. The fish catch reporting feature created by the team is a first step to help ensure the health of our ocean’s fisheries and to help consumers be aware of where their food comes from.

Anyone can innovate

Skylo’s first Hackathon proved that the sky’s the limit for narrowband IoT applications, with technology that’s easy enough for non-engineers to design and implement. Our winning Team was led by Skylo’s General Counsel! As all team members return to their everyday posts, I look forward to seeing how Skylo’s Hackathon IoT innovations will continue to unfold in the real world.

Follow Skylo on Twitter @SkyloTech to keep up with our latest news and developments, and reach out to us to discover how your own business can benefit from IoT connectivity at