By Caterpillar | Posted: March 14, 2022
When Cat licensee, the Bullitt Group, was approached by university students asking if they would help them send a phone into space, the Bullitt Group knew just the phone for the job.
Kit Newell, Innovation Partner Manager at the Bullitt Group, shares, "We're always looking for really extreme ways to show just how tough our Cat phones really are. So, when the students contacted us about sending one into space, we were always going to say, yes."
The project gave the University Collegiate School (out of Bolton, England) students real world experience studying how Cat phones are designed to cope with impacts and extreme temperatures. It also gave them the ability to test a device first-hand that’s designed to operate in hostile environments. And ultimately, fuel their imagination on how to design products for such specific needs.
As the students’ budget didn't stretch to rockets, the plan was to launch the Cat phones by weather balloon. The phones would then float up to the edge of space where the atmospheric pressure would burst the balloon, and the phones would plummet back to earth.
Sound simple enough? Perhaps not.
The biggest problem with this method is that it's common for weather balloons to land in inaccessible places where they can't be retrieved. The problem was solved by enlisting the help of David Akerman, a high altitude balloon expert. Using his software, he collated Met Office data with the speed and direction of the wind at different altitudes to predict where the balloon would fall.
Attached to the balloon was a rig containing two Cat S62 Pro phones facing one another. One would record in standard video. Meanwhile, the other would shoot thermal images to document the extreme temperatures.
Kit goes on to explain. "I felt confident the phones wouldn't be physically damaged, but I was nervous they might not survive the extremes of space. As with any phone, if they get super-hot, they shut off. In contrast, extreme low temperatures will drain a battery really quickly. Truth is, we didn't know how they were going to react." But both phones survived, complete with their video footage of the whole journey.
The final word has to go to Nathan Vautier, CEO, Bullitt Group. "This was a fascinating project, and the images captured speak for themselves. It just goes to show space is not just for billionaires!”
Plus, if Cat phones can survive a round trip visit to space, just think of what they can survive on an average worksite.
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