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Panning for Gold in The Sky-earthbook Inc. Creates A Brand-New Aerial Photography Service

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

The outbreak of COVID-19 has created non-contact business opportunities and also attracted attention to the application of aerial photography drones.

Taiwan's leading provider of aerial photography services, earthbook Inc., combines aerial photography drones, open data, artificial intelligence (AI), 4D modeling and a number of exclusive technologies to develop the world's first-ever aerial photography data service platform-earthbook.

Awarded 2019 champion of "Open Data Innovation Competition" held by the Industry Development Bureau (IDB) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, earthbook Inc., after the competition, cooperated with many companies to develop applications in the fields of smart transportation and smart buildings, expanded international markets in the form of online matchmaking and online exhibitions by the assistance of IDB, and seized overseas business opportunities in the data service industry.

Ian Hsu, CEO of earthbook Inc., said that the aerial photography drone has the advantages of different heights and multiple perspectives. Although it is efficient, the entry barriers are also high, such as taking licenses, insurance, drone and software procurement, flying practicing, data processing, etc. They are quite time-consuming and laborious. Outsourcing is facing difficulties such as door-by-door price negotiation, complicated transaction processes, unstable quality, and software compatibility, which often makes it difficult for companies to start innovative applications.

Therefore, the earthbook aerial photography data service has created a one-stop cloud service, including drone operator, drone APP live streaming, open data query and overlapping, 3D modeling, 3D measurement, drawing, video recording, and various API interfacing and publishing services. Drone operators and those who need aerial photography data can process data exchange, query, storage, analyzing, and sharing data on the 4D platform through earthbook.

This service can deal with the lengthy procedures for drone aerial photography work and post-production at the current market, provide a cloud-based smart aerial photography database for quick query, solve the problem of traditional one-time-use aerial photography data, and raise the value-added benefits of aerial photography data. By providing UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) -LBS (Location Based Service) afterward, which greatly enhances the added value of aerial photography data, develop commercial application services of drones.

Ian Hsu pointed out that in the era of smart cities and the Internet of Things, in addition to common monitoring and measurement functions, aerial photography drones have gradually developed other extended services, such as providing real-time instant vision function based on AI computing. This service can identify not only vehicles but also their models, assisting local government to grasp the road conditions and flow rates of each main road. 

This technology will also be applied to construction projects such as sand and gravel mining, riverbed dredging. By importing images from both on-site fixed surveillance cameras and aerial photography drones into the earthbook platform, this service can issue alerts when abnormalities occur, making it a powerful tool for the management of people and vehicles.

Images and maps play an important role in the aerial photography data service. Ian indicated that the implementation and application of aerial photography services often require terrain data. Although the United States provides global terrain data, Taiwan’s open data has local advantages of smaller value errors on coordinate, good quality, and great linkage to the government’s open data. With the consistent common language format, the service can be seamlessly connected and fulfilled, which will bring substantial help to the development of the earthbook platform.

Fully automated service is a goal that earthbook Inc. actively achieves. It is hoped that the platform will help customers plan their flight routes based on local terrain, buildings, weather, and other conditions, thus lower the threshold of aerial photography services. 

"There is no need for someone to bring machines to the scene," Ian said. He believes that in the rapid growth of the global aerial photography market, apart from the development of hardware like drones and equipment, aerial photography data is the biggest development opportunity. Moreover, in recent years, Southeast Asia has accelerated the expansion of basic infrastructure, it will be an important territory for earthbook Inc. to look to the future.

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