While Google Earth does a fantastic job at giving us Earthlings a view of our street and house from outer space, a new startup is teaming up with the International Space Station to, well, make you feel as if you're on the International Space Station. The startup will utilize HD cameras mounted on ISS to stream video in almost real time of the earth, 24/7. According to Mashable, the cameras are currently being built and will be shipped off to Russia, where the Russian Federal Space Agency will handle the deployment of the devices into space. The entire system should be up and running by early next year. This is the first time that the earth is being filmed and regular citizens can watch the video.
The above video is of a flash mob that Urthecast planned in San Francisco, filmed with cameras on helicopters. The video is meant to give viewers an idea of the type of footage they can expect. The ISS orbits around the earth, about 15 times a day and the cameras will constantly be filming the planet as the ISS is orbiting. The footage will then be downloaded to ground stations and ultimately be streamed at Urthecast.com. The cameras will let the users see detail like objects that are one meter wide. A co-founder of the project, Scott Larson, says that he expects the cameras to pick up footage every second for about five to ten years.
In order to monetize, Urthecast has three plans. First, as always, is advertising. As the ISS orbits around the earth, viewers will be able to see when the station will be over their area next. Advertisers can plan to place big objects like giant logs in an open area like a beach to showcase their products which will then be streamed from space to users around the world. The next method of paying bills is selling higher quality images and video to companies involved in mining and agriculture. And finally, Urthecast plans to release an API to application and game developers.
The company also plans to utilize user generated content to supplement its own content. So for example, when the ISS is filming over the Taj Mahal, Urthecast will also utlize pictures of the monument that users have taken and uploaded to the internet which will be viewable to anyone watching the livestream.