In late 2013, a reality TV show with global ambitions and one helluva of a wide, panning lens will debut. Filmed with two cameras docked on the International Space Station, the show will focus on the myriad activities happening right here on planet Earth, allowing every internet-connected human around the world to take an unprecedented, live-streaming look at their planet from above, in high-definition. Director Cameron Chell calls it “Google Earth on steroids.”
OK, so UrtheCast, the new platform I’m describing, isn’t really a reality show. But it kind of sounds like one. When its stream goes live, the service will be the world’s first ever “high definition streaming video platform of planet Earth,” allowing viewers to track the International Space Station’s location, wait till it passes over a particular location, and view and capture video that’s detailed enough to include people.
UrtheCast’s co-founder Scott Larson describes it as a “blend between Google Earth and Youtube. When you look at Google Earth you basically see static images. What you’re seeing with us is you’re seeing an image of the Earth scrolling by, so you’re able to fast forward, pause, skip, rewind. You’ll be able to tag those videos” according to what’s happening—like a sporting event or a protest.
UrtheCast expects that it will transform the way media organizations (and others) gather video footage of events as they unfold in real time, like major weather events or political uprisings. The stream will be available to the public for free and to commercial users for a fee. But they’ll also allow developers to build apps around their data through an open API.
And all of that’s happening just in Season 1.