The black box is always one of the first things that a rescue team looks for when a plane or ship goes missing, whether it’s a movie or in real life. If you aren’t familiar with it, a black box is basically used to record a ship or plane’s data, including functions, activities, altitude, speed, and location. All those large aircraft and vessels use a black box for safety and tracking, but do you ever wonder if small boats or vehicles use them too?


In the Philippines, only 10 airports out of 85 have radar capabilities and only 2 out of 429 fishing ports and 821 commercial ports have VTMS capability for monitoring ships. Isn’t it scary to think how impossible it is to locate a missing boat in case it suddenly gets lost in the middle of the sea?


Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise, Inc. (FAME), with CEO Arcelio J. Fetizanan Jr., present their very own FAME Transponder, an IoT innovation to answer the problem of the maritime and aviation industries. This transponder does not use radio frequency (which has a lower capability for communication) but LORA technology, or Long Range Network WAN (Wide Area Network). LORA WAN network architecture allows transmission of messages and data between devices. These can be relayed across a geographical area with the help of gateways. The data is aggregated and processed from a central network server.


LORA, as an Internet of Things (IoT) technology, enables network deployment even in remote locations with a range of over 21 miles. IoT, in layman’s terms, is a concept that connects devices to the Internet using a switch.Though its network is battery operated, the power consumption is low, making it work for longer hours. Its gateways for ground network are now being installed across the Philippines, and it is expected to be completed in the coming months, as Junjun says.


The FAME transponder, which works like a black box, could be used by general aviation aircraft and small maritime vessels so that their activities may be tracked. In return, its gateways may be installed on airports without radar capability and on maritime ports without VTMS monitoring capability. Land-based vehicles such as vans and container trucks may also use this device as a tracker. Even cyclists, marathon runners, and ordinary people who need a tracking device can use the FAME transponder.


It was only in 2015 that the idea came to life after it was selected to receive a grant of 500,000 pesos from the Ideaspace startup competition. Now, it has, and it will become, an innovation which would help small-scale fishermen and aircraft controllers as they pursue their jobs without having worries with connectivity and communications.