This story is from the 2015 Access 25. Explore more from this issue

Hi-Res Satellites

New satellite technology will soon allow you to read license plates and mailbox numbers anywhere in the world from your phone.

January 2015

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Wonder how many cars — and what makes and models — are patronizing a particular chain of retail stores around the globe? A combination of new satellite technology and relaxed regulations will soon make it possible to gather that data with a mouse click.

At the head of the pack are companies such as Google and DigitalGlobe. Google’s recent acquisition, now named Google Skybox, plans to launch 24 satellites by 2018 that will photoimage the globe in its entirety, in high resolution, three times a day, likely radically improving the information you can get from Google Maps.

The privacy battles are obviously just beginning. In the meantime: Look up and say “cheese.”

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