Could this be the future of Google Earth?
A satellite imagery company in Canada has just released some stunnung HD video – yes, video – of several world cities shot with special cameras mounted on the International Space Station (ISS).
The footage, released on Wednesday by Vancouver-based Urthecast, shows detailed moving imagery from London, Boston, and Barcelona.
The videos each run for no more than 45 seconds and cover areas of up to 1.19 x 0.67 miles (1.92 x 1.08 kms). The London sequence shows, for example, traffic moving along the streets and boats plying the waters of the Thames. You can even see the London Eye Ferris wheel slowly turning.
The material was shot some 250 miles above Earth with four HD cameras that cost around $35 million to develop.
Urthecast co-founder and CEO Scott Larson said the footage demonstrates his company’s commitment to “making timely Earth video and imagery from space accessible to everyone.”
He added, “With the ultimate goal of connecting the planet and highlighting what unites us all, we’re revealing a perspective of Earth from space that was previously reserved for a small few.”
Indeed, you can check out a live view of the Earth from space right now (unless the ISS is on the night side of the planet, in which case you won’t see much).
In the coming months, Urthecast hopes to start offering a range of services to businesses that’ll allow them to zoom in, rewind, and fast forward through material, and also search out locations that the ISS has already passed over.
Larson told Wired that potential customers could include “government agencies, businesses in sectors that rely on data like agriculture, shipping and resource extraction, and financial arbitrageurs.” Meanwhile, it’s already working with the UN to help gather data regarding humanitarian issues around the world.
While the price of the services will vary depending upon the complexity of the request, the basic, no-frills live-stream will continue to be offered to all for free.
Urthecast’s achievement is impressive, for sure. But it’s not the only company making use of this kind of video technology. Planet Labs and Skybox Imaging both have camera-equipped satellites orbiting the Earth, and guess what, Skybox was acquired last year by Google. Now, what was that about Google Earth…..