Google paid $500 million for the company that puts satellites into orbit 185 miles above the Earth. Within a few years, you might be able use Google Maps to check if you left a light on or if your car is in your driveway.
That's because by 2016 or so, Skybox will be able to take full images of the Earth twice a day, at a resolution that until last week was illegal to sell commercially—all with just a half-dozen satellites. By the time its entire fleet of 24 satellites has launched in 2018, Skybox will be imaging the entire Earth at a resolution sufficient to capture, for example, real-time video of cars driving down the highway. And it will be doing it three times a day.
Notably, Skybox says that satellite imagery isn't the business that they see themselves in. At Google their business will be knowledge, not data.
For example, co-founder Dan Berkenstock says they can predict the release of the iPhone.
"We're looking at Foxconn every week," Mr. Berkenstock says, because measuring the density of trucks outside the Taiwanese company's manufacturing facilities tells Skybox when the next iPhone will be released.
Skybox can also use its imagery to determine how much oil is being pumped out of the ground in Saudi Arabia or even peg the price of grain months in advance by measuring the health of every square yard of cropland on Earth.
The possibilities for Skybox are seemingly endless and Google acquired it for 1/38th the price of WhatsApp.