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.