C/Net reports that Microsoft plans to buy Vexcel, a maker of remote sensing software and instruments, to help expand the software maker’s digital mapping efforts.
Microsoft said the pending deal will help it with its efforts “to deliver a dynamic immersive digital representation of the real world that provides the best local search and mapping experience.”
Vexcel, a privately held company, specializes in synthetic aperture radar processing, remote-sensing ground stations, photogrammetry, aerial mapping and geographic information systems and services.
Vexcel’s GIS software is often used to plot bombing missions and cruise missile attacks. The 3D representations help avoid radar and natural hazards. Vexcel also makes a hyperspectral camera, the UltraCam (right).
UltraCamD uses eight independent cameras. Four of them create a large-format panchromatic image (11,500×7,500 pixels), and the other four are for multispectral channels (red, green, blue, and near infrared). The integration of laser range finders is seen as a paradigm shift for 3D modeling.
Microsoft’s Virtual Earth offers a combination of aerial imagery, maps and yellow-pages data. It is designed to let users search for and share information about specific U.S. locations, but it doesn’t do the spectacular flybys of the Google Earth application.
The Boulder Daily Camera, a newspaper in the company’s hometown, first reported news of the acquisition on Friday. Microsoft did not offer any financial details of the transaction.
Microsoft will have to get approval first. It may not be a walk in the park. The United States National Geospacial Intelligence Agency and other agencies are sure to raise concerns. Of course, it may have been the NGA who was responsible for the “accidental” bombing of tv stations and embassies in Iraq.
In the future, perhaps consumer digital cameras will incorporate GPS and Lidar to generate automatic 3D scene rendering.
The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing has A Guide to Land Imaging Satellites (pdf). Earth Imaging Journal, Directions Magazine, Geo World, GPS World, and the Open Geospatial Community have more.