The satellite company Skybox Imaging that Google acquired back in 2014 seems to be one of the new focuses of the tech giant as new plans regarding it are being revealed, along with a fateful name change into Terra Bella. Ever since its acquisition, Google attached two primary objectives to its name: the first was to improve the Internet connectivity around the world – one of the primary objectives of Google at the time – while the second was to improve the company’s mapping products.
Now, Google’s focus is shifted back on it, as Google plans for Terra Bela to go beyond satellite imagery and focus on image analysis more than before in order to locate patterns and meanings instead. Since Skybox Imaging’s first satellite launch – SkySat-1 – which took place two years ago, soon after Google’s acquisition of the company, approximately 100,000 images have been taken. With more than a dozen satellites in development status, which Google hopes to launch over the next few years, things seem to be getting even more serious.
Founders Dan Berkenstock, Ching-Yu Hu, and John Fenwick have said that they see a new use in satellite imagery that lies beyond the raw utility that the company has seen in the now dubbed Terra Bella project until now. They believe that by attempting to focus on understanding the true nature of geospatial information, humanity can use this kind of data to try and solve the challenges of our age. They believe that this information can assist in resolving economic, societal and humanitarian challenges.
Naturally, just satellite imagery alone cannot help dissolve the mysteries and workings of the world alone, but merely represents a part of it. By extracting and providing entire series of data that can be drawn out of Terra Bella’s activity and processed by AI, Google believes that it could soon provide organizations and individuals alike with the missing key in a number of different issues.
There is a broad range of data that can be drawn out of the dozens of thousands of images that the satellites employed by former Skybox; or, at least, the type of data that could be beneficial to a large number of businesses and organizations. This could include things such as port traffic, disaster effects or mining development.
However, this does not mean that Google’s focus is shifting completely towards this new area. The former contributions that Skybox has brought will continue to unfold, with this becoming the new but non-invasive goal.
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