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Google Earth gets Aerial Photos from Google Kites, Balloons

By - Source: Google | B 7 comments

You've seen the Google cars and maybe even the Google trikes, but what about the Google kites?

Over the years we've sort of become accustomed to Google Earth's impressive aerial imagery. It's not that we're no longer impressed by it, we've just grown used to seeing satellite and aerial photographs. However, Google isn't one to rest on its laurels and it seems the company has been experimenting with other methods of capturing aerial images.

 

Today Google announced the publication of images captured using balloons and kites. The company partnered with the folks at The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science in order to find a way to make imagery collection easy, cheap and accessible. What they came up with involves an open source balloon mapping toolkit and allows anyone with a cheap digital point and shoot camera, and about $100 of other parts (balloon, helium, line, soda bottle, etc.) to take their own aerial photos.

"Their grassroots mapping work is based on the idea that citizens anywhere should be able to explore the environment in and around their communities, by collecting their own imagery and other data, and to do it in a way that is useful for scientific and social purposes," said Google's Christiaan Adams.

To see Google's balloon and kite photos, you'll need to hit up Google Earth’s historical imagery database, and then download and open this KML file in the latest version of Google Earth.

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  • 0 Hide
    alidan , April 19, 2012 1:19 PM
    will it be higher quality that current sat photos? that will be the tester. just looked up my home, i cant see a baloon and a camera someone would risk in one taking a better picture.
  • 1 Hide
    freggo , April 19, 2012 2:31 PM
    alidanwill it be higher quality that current sat photos? that will be the tester. just looked up my home, i cant see a baloon and a camera someone would risk in one taking a better picture.


    You mean "higher quality sat photos" that are being made available to the public ?
    I am sure certain agencies have sat imagery that is well above what Google Earth has to offer :-)
  • 0 Hide
    of the way , April 19, 2012 3:20 PM
    And it all depends on where you live. The photos of my area are not just low quality, they're also very out of date.
  • Display all 7 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    etudions , April 19, 2012 4:13 PM
    I have confidence in your judgment.
  • 0 Hide
    10tacle , April 19, 2012 7:02 PM
    Of course we have higher resolution satellite photos than are being released to the public. Heck a half century ago during the Cold War we (U.S.) had cameras on U-2s and a short while later on SR-71s that could record license plates from 70,000ft plus.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , April 20, 2012 3:25 AM
    freggoYou mean "higher quality sat photos" that are being made available to the public ?I am sure certain agencies have sat imagery that is well above what Google Earth has to offer :-)


    i don't doubt that either.

    but what i doubt is that anything shy of a dlsr will ever take a photo of my house with a balloon or a kite. ever take a photo from your hands, ever have to take several because the slightest movement from you makes the photo blur? this is common with most cameras under 400$...

    i doubt normal people will kite up a dslr or ballon one up for pictures.
  • 0 Hide
    freggo , April 27, 2012 3:58 PM
    10tacleOf course we have higher resolution satellite photos than are being released to the public. Heck a half century ago during the Cold War we (U.S.) had cameras on U-2s and a short while later on SR-71s that could record license plates from 70,000ft plus.


    That tale has been around forever.
    It does not work simply because you'd be viewing the license plate at a rather steep angle.
    What was prob meant is that they 'could' read a license place if it was laying flat on the ground.

    Any graduate physics students here specializing in optics ?
    Is this reasonable when considering the physical limits of glass lenses ?



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