Google pays $500 million to buy satellite maker Skybox Imaging

New geographic data could find its way into Google apps

Skybox's technology can analyze changes like the number of cars in a parking lot.

Skybox's technology can analyze changes like the number of cars in a parking lot.

Google stands to gather massive amounts of geographic data for information as wildly diverse as the health of farm fields and congestion of parking lots, by purchasing the super-smart satellite imaging and analytics company Skybox Imaging.

The companies said Tuesday that Google was paying US$500 million cash to acquire 5-year-old Skybox, which claims to have made the world's smallest high-resolution imaging satellite, which collects a range of images and video of the world's daily goings-on.

The deal has not yet closed and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Google, in its announcement, said that Skybox will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Google already uses satellite imagery for its Maps and Earth software, but the data can be between one and three years old.

But the possible applications of Skybox's technology go way beyond Maps. "Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief -- areas Google has long been interested in," Google said.

Those are oft-cited goals at Google now. The company said the same thing after it recently acquired Titan Aerospace, which makes drones that fly at 65,000 feet to beam Internet access to underserved parts of the world.

Skybox's technology, like Titan's, may also hook up with Google's Project Loon, an experiment involving high-altitude balloons for Internet access.

And it could give Google a big leg up against Facebook, which has its own drones for Internet and other projects.

But Skybox's technology is impressive by itself. By analyzing its images and video, the company provides intelligence on all sorts of industries and activities on Earth -- data that Google could eventually incorporate into any number of its products.

Skybox, for instance, looks at changes in the number of cars in a retailer's parking lot, or the size of stockpiles of natural resources in ports, to provide financial trading intelligence.

"The time is right to join a company who can challenge us to think even bigger and bolder, and who can support us in accelerating our ambitious vision," the Mountain View, California-based Skybox said in its announcement.

The company also looks at rock topologies and geological structures for mining operations monitoring, and monitors refugee movements in conflict areas to aid humanitarian efforts.

Skybox even does maritime monitoring for ships -- Google Maps cruise transit options, anyone?

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetGoogleNetworkingsearch enginessocial networkingvideoanalyticsInternet-based applications and servicesInternet service providersMapsSkybox Imaging

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?