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From: Savant3/9/2016 4:17:54 PM
   of 2808
Communication + /Azure/MSFT Microsoft Is Testing Azure IoT Platform From The Stratosphere

*But no profanity

MAR 9, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

Microsoft is attempting to pull off a rare feat that may be hard for its competitors to emulate. The team at Microsoft Research is deploying a balloon in the stratosphere loaded with sensors and cameras, which is connected to the Azure IoT platform. The balloon will send real-time telemetry along with live flight video.

This is not the first time Microsoft has experimented with this idea. In February 2015, it successfully sent a balloon that streamed real-time data to the cloud. Dubbed as Pegasus 1, this experiment relied on a distributed computing framework called Project Orleans, and Piraeus gateway – a high-velocity, self-organizing subsystem. Though Pegasus 1 faced many challenges, it ended up as a successful experiment which became the basis for the second round, Pegasus II.

The launch was originally scheduled for February 22nd. But it got cancelled at the last minute due to the malfunctioning of air pressure sensor. Though the new schedule is yet to be announced, Microsoft Research is all set to launch the mission. If you are interested in getting the updates, sign-up at

Pegasus II project has many interesting aspects:

The UAV may reach the altitude of 100,000 feetIt is loaded with 38 sensors that send telemetry dataSix cameras are fitted to stream live video feedThere are seven radios including the GPS devices to transmit the data to the field gateways280 cubic feet of helium is used for that long-lasting flight into the upper atmosphereThe balloon can send real-time telemetry, video feed, and even text messages to interested parties.

Microsoft didn’t have the complete IoT platform during Pegasus 1 experiment. With Azure IoT Hub, Event Hubs, Stream Analytics, and Power BI, the company has built one of the most comprehensive IoT platforms, which is utilized for the latest Pegasus 2 project.

Pegasus 2 has an intriguing architecture. The sensors send the telemetry to the field gateway through the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) which is ingested into the Piraeus gateway for further processing. This telemetry data is then stored in Azure Blobs and DocumentDB before sending it to Stream Analytics via the Event Hubs for real-time processing. Based on the pre-defined rules, SMS is sent to the subscribers via Twilio. Images and video feed are passed through WebPurify for profanity check before showing them in the dashboard. The live video feed is encoded with Azure Media Services. The final dashboard is presented through Power BI for the end users. Azure App Services are used for hosting the mission control applications that send commands to the flight.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft has got the best IoT reference architecture with Pegasus 2. It will act as the blueprint for various use cases including fleet management and predictive maintenance of aircrafts.

The cloud wars are slowly shifting to IoT and microservices. Amazon, Google GOOGL +1.22%, IBM IBM +1.51%, Microsoft, Oracle ORCL +0.31%, and Salesforce are busy building IoT PaaS capabilities. With its proven track record of shipping embedded devices and managing large-scale distributed systems for enterprises, Microsoft is in the race to win the industrial IoT market.

Will AWS convince NASA to connect the Mars Rover to its IoT platform? Let’s wait and watch.

Janakiram MSV is an analyst, advisor, and architect. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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