Blue Marble provides a "space-accessible profile" of a building, facility, landmark or other physical location visible from air or satellite. Phillips worked with feedback from Google to create Blue Marble, but talks are underway with Bing and other mapping and satellite imagery services.
CEO Rich Phillips said the QR code and apps send the consumer who is capturing the image to coupons or a brand's Web site. "We're trying to tie the emerging space of satellite images to mobile," he said.
Phillips engineers are working with software developers on applications that enable consumers to bypass the tethered or wireless Web to locate QR codes on rooftops. Now, consumers locate the codes on the Internet via computer rather than mobile.
Today, the cumbersome action requires searching for images on rooftops in online mapping platforms or satellite images. Phillips will release a free downloadable application that captures a code from a mobile phone when using the navigational app on a smartphone.
A handful of businesses, including aerospace agencies, the federal government and retailers, are testing Phillips' platform. 44Doors will provide marketing data, such as time of day and online traffic patterns from the QR code.
There is nothing new about flying in a plane overhead, looking down and seeing a logo of the roof of a building. But QR codes offer information as well as actionable and branding images through videos and coupons. The codes are turning up on everything from homes for sale to tombstones in graveyards.
Phillips said the company's biggest challenge remains changing weather patterns. He can't control when it will snow and block the satellite from taking the image.
It turns out that Google Earth has been downloaded more than 400 million times. By integrating a readable code into the space-accessible profile, mobile users can access dynamic marketing programs, videos, digital coupons and other content while viewing the specific geographical location.
In June 2011, 14 million mobile users in the U.S. -- representing 6.2% of the total mobile audience -- scanned a QR code on their mobile device, according to a comScore study. The findings suggest males, 60.5%, are more likely to scan codes. More than half of all consumers who scan QR codes are between the ages of 18 and 34. More than one of every three QR code scanners, or 36.1%, had a household income of at least $100,000.
Metropolitan Service Areas (MSAs) updates the satellite images on Google Maps and Google Earth on a rolling basis based on scheduled satellite and aerial updates managed by Google. Phillips developed its own schedule based on projected updates to satellite imagery.
"I believe the space economy, which is about $260 billion worldwide, will become a trillion-dollar industry and that we're talking about applications and services leveraging satellite and GPS for private and public use," Phillips said. "Given the cost of environmental marketing and billboards, we think this is a cost-effective way to provide a nearly permanent billboard that companies can use to serve dynamic information."
The code becomes available on Google Maps for about 12 months through image capture technology. Philips said standard billboards can cost between $10,000 and $30,000 per month on average and are limited by geography, but a space-accessible billboard is available at a cost of between 75% and 98% less and is accessible to everyone with Internet access.