Innovation is why we love companies like Google. Several times a week, it seems, the company comes out with another program or product idea that makes us all smile (and secretly wonder how long we have until they’ve achieved world domination). Their best ideas, however, involve their user base — and their latest expansion idea for Google Earth does just that. Read more…
Frank Taylor, the guy behind the unofficial Google Earth Blog, is currently on a 5 years sailing trip around the world called The Tahina Expedition. Google is actually a partner in the expedition, and is acquiring content generated by the trip for use in their products. One thing Taylor has been doing is taking aerial photographs of locations using a kite, resulting in imagery that’s much clearer than the photos Google gets from their satellites up in space. Google has already begun incorporating some of these images into their products, as you can see from this Google Maps satellite view of Manihi in French Polynesia.
Here’s an interesting video created by Make Magazine showing how UC Berkeley architecture professor Charles Benton uses kites to capture amazing aerial photographs. Benton creates his own gear for mounting his DSLR on a kite and controlling it from afar — you might be surprised at how creative some of his contraptions are (for one rig he uses a disposable camera, rubber bands, and a ping-pong ball).
A few guys in Los Angeles recently convinced their friend to let them borrow his new iPhone 4 (that he waited 4.5 in line for), and got onto a rooftop with the help of another friend. Using some large helium balloons, they attached the iPhone and started recording 720p video of downtown LA as it rose up to 1000 feet into the air on the end of a kite string. They also made a fun behind-the-scenes video of their project.
This setup is definitely cheaper than an RC plane or helicopter, and somewhat safer and more stable than a kite.
Forget complicated kite photography kits that actually require skill. UK-based industrial designer Matthew Clark has a fun solution for taking photographs from high up: the Aeriel Capture camera.
This concept camera has a 3 foot balloon built into the back of the camera itself, and has a 20 meter chord that doubles as the shutter release. Photographs are taken by simply flipping a switch in the hand reel.
The idea is great in that it would allow anyone to easily take some aerial shots of an event without wind or fancy aerial vehicles. The downside to the idea is that you need to have helium on hand to get it floating.
If this was on the market for a low enough price (i.e. $20), do you think it’d be a useful camera to have around?