In the digital age, we’re better connected than ever before. But until now, a curious blind spot has existed in terms of how well we’re connected to the ground beneath our feet. While Google Maps ostensibly lets us view the world around us from space (or, thanks to Street View, from ground level), it has many flaws. Flaws which a new project is hoping to solve.
The Rise of Soar
That project is Soar, which has been working on building a high-resolution super map of Earth. Think of it as Google Maps given the 4K treatment. The Australia-based company recently linked up with China Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co Ltd. (Siwei), which operates under the auspices of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CSAC) – which happens to be the main contractor for the Chinese space program.
As part of the landmark agreement, imagery sourced from CSAC’s SuperView satellite constellation and GaoFen satellite will be added to Soar’s expanding repository of satellites, aerial sensors and crowd-sourced drone footage. The pictures from the new satellites are as much as 20 times sharper than those provided by Soar’s previous data, which relied upon the European Space Agency’s Sentinel program and NASA’s Landsat.
Image source: Soar.earth
While Google seeks to autonomously embed itself in every aspect of our lives, Soar lives and breathes maps. It collects them, sharpens them, distributes them and, yes, monetizes them in the interests of creating a living ecosystem wherein maps are more reliable for everyone and users play an active role. Soar lets people connect and share dynamic mapping data from anywhere on Earth, and utilizes blockchain to verify all transactions.
The ambition of Soar goes beyond mapping every last square inch of Earth. The team wants to provide highly accurate maps from a variety of sources and altitudes, to create a sort of living record of the landscape. By doing so, needle-sharp mapping data will become accessible to anyone, from anywhere. The same satellites used for defense, disaster prevention and climate change monitoring, in other words, become user-generated and user-owned.
The Need for Dynamic, On-Demand Maps
You may well ask whether there is a genuine need for high-resolution, real-time mapping data among everyday users. When you consider that over 5.2 million live websites use Google Maps, however, you get a sense of how vital this information is. In April 2018 alone, 154.4 million users accessed Google Maps. And remember, these are historic maps, not real-time: the user doesn’t see live changes. These images are also lower resolution than those you can expect to see with Soar, coming almost exclusively from satellites.
Image source: Soar.earth
Reviewing the latest news regarding maps, we learn that bus timetables are being integrated into new applications, and a future version of Google Maps may also highlight streets with good lighting to improve community safety. The Waze map app, meanwhile, now tracks toll prices across the UK and Republic of Ireland, helping drivers save money.
The potential of a community-driven platform like Soar is huge. Users can sign up to Soar+ to host, view and share maps using the powerful Quadtree tiling engine, which breaks images down into structured tiles for faster on-demand viewing. The same principles which facilitate on-demand streaming of video content without the need to download bulky files.
The Dropbox of World Maps
If Soar is an HD, 4K mapping solution, Soar+ is like Dropbox or Google Drive for budding cartographers. With Soar+, you can upload and save maps and other imagery which have their geolocation embedded within them, and create a custom Soar sub-domain featuring your name and logo. A free 14-day trial is currently on offer, and there are three paid plans available thereafter, with the price dependent on the number of users, bandwidth allowance, map hits and level of support.
Whether you want to purchase satellite, drone or aerial imagery via fiat currency or cryptocurrency is up to you. The Soar ecosystem has its own ERC20 smart token, SkyMap (SKYM), usage of which triggers a discount. The token can be purchased or traded on exchanges such as CoinBene and NCX.
As for photographic contributors to the super map (drone photographers, for instance), they retain 100% ownership of their imagery and benefit from a low commission rate on sales.
A network of visual storytellers that faithfully recording the physical world as we speak. The Soar team want that network to grow and grow, with the end goal being a sort of Truman Show of the living world – minus the deceived titular hero. With user-traded high-res images, we should all be allowed (and encouraged) to survey natural wonders of the world, picking out particular scenes for the sense of wonderment they inspire.
It’s not just individuals who stand to gain from Soar’s ecosystem either. App developers will be able to tap into super-sharp maps to produce better services for their clients, the same way companies like Uber and Airbnb already do with Google. Climate researchers, archeologists, disaster management specialists, geologists and explorers can also utilize Soar in their professional endeavors.
The difference is, stakeholders participate and profit from the success of the decentralized global super map. It’s taking blockchain’s core principles and literally applying them to the world around us.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
1 thought on “Mapping the Living World: Soar Takes Flight”
Does it allow overlays of multiple maps? For example, overlay an historical map over most recent data?
Also, how exactly is imagery ‘real-time’? Does Soar use non-satellite imagery for faster updates and finer detail (e.g., drones, aerostats, sounding rockets)?
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