Google no longer needs to imagine owning Skybox Imaging, maker of small-scale high-resolution imaging satellites, because the Mountain View, Calif. company will buy it.
The $500 million acquisition, announced Tuesday, will provide Google with the technology to improve the quality of satellite imagery used in its digital maps. Diaz Nesamoney, founder and CEO of Jivox, thinks Google will use the technology to create a more scalable application. "I'm between meetings and wanted to find a Starbucks, but I couldn't locate it on the map, so I looked it up on Google images and found a picture," he said. "It showed me a picture and I was able to find it right away."
The acquisition should also lower expenses, as satellite imagery moves from military and aerospace into more commercial applications, from images to Internet access to radio to television.
Led by aerospace industry veteran Tom Ingersoll, Skybox is a five-year-old startup in Mountain View, Calif. The high-definition images are so clear, viewers can see a plane by along the bottom of the screen in this video. The satellite images are not only filled with landmarks, but details of the buildings and surrounding area.
Earlier this month, Google said it would build 180 satellites that bring Internet connectivity to people in countries without. The satellites would provide encrypted signals.
While many people are concerned about privacy from drones taking pictures of people in their backyard or Google's cars mapping the streets of the world, there are numerous uses for imaging satellites like the transmission of broadcast media and Internet access.