get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”
But what are the company's high-flying new initiatives really after? Are drones, balloons and mini spy satellites moving from scifi fiction to Defense Department nightmare to corporate innovation?
Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Link to article:
Excerpt: "Now Google is going for the bird’s-eye view. Last year it announced Project Loon, a seemingly quixotic foray into high-altitude balloons. Two months ago it acquired Titan Aerospace, a startup that makes high-altitude solar-powered drones. And this week it paid $500 million for Skybox Imaging, a startup that builds tiny satellites that can shoot high-resolution photos and videos of the Earth below. The latest rumors have Google in talks with Richard Branson’s space-tourism venture, Virgin Galactic.
Ask Google what all the balloons, drones, and satellites are for, and you’ll get an answer straight from the mouth of a Miss America contestant. Why, they’re for bringing Internet access to the world’s poor, improving Google Maps, fighting deforestation, and aiding in humanitarian relief efforts!
I don’t doubt that Google is sincere in those goals. Project Loon in particular seems to have hatched from a genuine desire to find new ways of providing Internet access to rural areas. (At this point, there are no downward-facing cameras on the balloons, unlike on the drones and satellites.) But it’s hard to fathom that a company as strategically minded as Google would buy a drone company and a satellite company just to lend a helping hand to some NGOs. As for Google Maps, it already gets high-quality satellite imagery from a company called DigitalGlobe, and as the Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer points out, the two firms just signed a new multi-year agreement.
It’s important to understand that Skybox is not just another satellite-imaging company. To fully grasp its potential—and its natural affinity with Google’s mission—you have to look more closely at what it was doing before Google bought it. Fortunately, we have a marvelously high-resolution snapshot in the form of an in-depth feature article that David Samuels wrote for Wired a year ago. The headline: 'Inside a Startup’s Plan to Turn a Swarm of DIY Satellites Into an All-Seeing Eye.'
Commercial imaging satellites tend to be big, expensive, and seriously high-tech, which is why there are fewer than a dozen in orbit today. But Skybox has found a way to make them cheap and light, using ingenious image-processing software to cover the hardware’s shortcomings. So far, it has only launched one, which can only shoot 90 seconds of video at a time. With enough resources, though, Skybox could launch dozens of them, generating near-real-time images of any spot on the globe throughout the day. That’s like having a closed-circuit TV network that covers the whole world."
This is a full motion HD 60-second video captured by SkySat-1 on March 25, 2014. Please click on the HD toggle to see the video in full resolution.
For more information, visit us at skybox.com.