This is what Google Earth would look like with live video



Outside of select government and military applications, on demand satellite imagery and video is still little more than a dream. But a few startups are working on tackling that problem, and we're getting to see the first fruits of their labor. SkyBox Imaging has released a video showing off its satellite assets, including incredible video footage of the world from far above. The clip below of Beijing's Capital International Airport is stitched in with Google Earth-like still satellite imagery. The result is an exciting peek at what future mapping service could look like with live HD video footage of the entire earth.

If you don't find the final product truly impressive, it may be because movies like Black Hawk Down have made such video streams seem mundane. But that's far from the case. For those with big enough pocketbooks to request specific footage from SkyBox and its competitors, the imagery could help with everything from monitoring crop health and oil pipeline safety to trying to get an edge in the stock market by examining commercial activities. For example, on SkyBox's website, the company says its sub-meter resolution is enough to keep tabs on parking lots, barges coming into and out of ports, and even seeing how much oil is left in storage containers.

The imagery comes from the first of 24 planned microsatellites by SkyBox. It weighs just over 250 pounds (120kg) and it's only about the size of a minifridge — 60cm x 60cm x 90cm — which helps drastically cut the cost of the entire process. The first satellite launched last last year, and thirteen more are set to be produced and launched through 2015 and 2016. That means we're a long, long ways off from an instantly-accessible, live video version of Google Earth, but we'll keep dreaming.

The Verge
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.