OQ gets US patent for IoT wake-up technology

  • February 23, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Luxembourg-based OQ Technology, a 5G IoT satellite operator, has been granted a patent for its IoT wake-up technology by the US Patent & Trademark Office. It is the first out of the company’s six patent applications in the USA and the EU.

Wake-up is a smart power-saving technology within OQ’s terminal IoT devices that allows them to wake up and communicate efficiently with the base station (satellite) only when needed. The function can be adjusted in line with the growth of the number of satellites, with each satellite being able to connect with thousands of sensors.

Through wake-up, OQ aims to achieve the ten-year battery-life goal set by 3GPP standards for NB-IoT wireless communications.

OQ’s other patent applications include frequency synchronisation, timing synchronisation, IoT device localisation, inter-satellite link technology, and a satellite system design and network architecture for cellular IoT communication between satellites and ground stations. The wake-up technology and the technologies still pending patents are all to be implemented onboard OQ’s satellite constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO).

“I’m very grateful to US Patent & Trademark Office to grant OQ Technology this patent,” said Omar Qaise, CEO of OQ Technology. “This and the pending patents will give us an edge over competitors and security to our intellectual property. In addition to the patent for wake-up, we have five more patents in the queue to be approved both in USA and Europe which we expect to take place this year. With these patents and our frequency licences and chip partnerships, we are the pioneer company who is well positioned to provide 3GPP compatible satellite NB-IoT over non-terrestrial networks.”

He said OQ Technology was the only company in the world that used standardised 3GPP cellular technology for NB-IoT to connect devices to satellites.

“We have been leading the way for satellite-based 5G communications since we created the world’s first universal plug-and-play IoT device that can provide connectivity using LEO satellite infrastructure,” said Qaise. “Testing in orbit using our Tiger-1 mission in 2019 was another. This is yet another important milestone for us.”

The remaining technologies pending patents are:

  • Terminal device localisation to locate a terminal device using stored data from the base station(s) instead of an expensive global positioning system.
  • Inter-satellite links, keeping the different base stations aware of each other and record keeping of terminal devices being connectable to the different base stations. This will make hand-over between base stations easier. In the future this will also include GEO (geosynchronous equatorial orbit) satellites.
  • Frequency and timing synchronisation for communications to improve the signalling between terminal devices and base stations to overcome Doppler effect (wavelength change from travelling objects) issues and timing misalignment issues. This improves the quality of data transmissions and data rate capacity, and saves energy.
  • A satellite system design and network architecture for cellular IoT communication between space and earth stations.

The company has also developed a technology that allows it to use the cheaper standard mobile chips ($5) for its satellite connectivity, instead of an expensive satellite chip ($100) that would have to be installed and used when leaving terrestrial networks.

OQ’s services are suitable for applications requiring fast and real-time data processing via satellite, including asset tracking, drone control, vehicle telematics, artificial intelligence critical alarms, automated transport and smart cars, where the latency has to be below 10ms, which satellites in GEO by incumbent operators, with a latency of up to 250ms, cannot provide.

Last year, OQ launched its first commercial nanosatellite Tiger-2 and used it to test its hybrid satellite-cellular user terminal in harsh desert conditions. Tiger-3 is on schedule for launch with mission integrator NanoAvionics. OQ plans to grow its constellation with more satellites soon.