Slashgeo reports on the acquisition announced Friday. I confess that I’ve only vaguely heard of the company, but per the Google Lat Long Blog it “builds high resolution cameras for the collection of aerial imagery.”
I did some digging and here’s what I learned:
based out of Spirit of St. Louis Airport, St. Louis
made its name selling low cost imagery to county appraisers/assessors
sensor built based on design from Sarnoff Research Labs in Princeton, N.J.
- St Louis Business Journal, 2000
Most of the references to the company I found were from contact awards in 2000-2001 save mentions of work done after Katrina. Here’s the “about” blurb from a PR from ER Mapper, 2005:
Founded in 1998, ImageAmerica manufactures and operates the DDP series of digital mapping cameras and is a leading nationwide provider of high-resolution digital orthoimagery.”
And, here’s more about the products, from a 2001 PR:
“ImageAmerica has developed and operates the worlds only direct digital panoramic aerial camera system.The Company provides near real-time proprietary imagery, and imagery products under the TerraSource(R) brand name for government and municipal customers.”
The terrasource.com domain is currently for sale.
Here’s the patent ImageAmerica owns:
Direct digital airborne panoramic camera system and method (filed 1996, published 1999)
I’m no experct in aerial imagery, but I did some consulting to one of the companies in this space (EMERGE, now part of Applanix/Trimble). I also briefly edited EOM. The sense I got back a few years ago was that aerial imagery was still in “the wild west” phase. There was a lot of consolidation, small players like GeoVantage (now part of John Deere) were competing with established companies in the imaging business like Leica and Zeiss (Intergraph). The folks who used the cameras, but didn’t build them got acquired (AirPhotoUSA for example). Then of course, Microsoft bought Vexcel, which makes digital sensors. Just recently I heard Microsoft explain its vision of those who own that equipment continuing to populate Virtual Earth. I’m not sure how many of ImageAmerica’s sensors are out there, if any, so the model for Google may be quite different than that of Microsoft.