Google has acquired ImageAmerica, a company that builds high-resolution cameras and uses them to take aerial photographs.
The search engine giant announced the move Friday on its LatLong blog about Google Earth and its other mapping efforts. It didn't disclose terms of the deal.
"We're excited about how ImageAmerica's technology will contribute to our mapping services down the road," Product Manager Stephen Chau said on the blog. "Since we're in the research and development phase right now it may be some time before you see any of this imagery in Google Maps or Earth."
According to older pages from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, Clayton, Mo.-based ImageAmerica specialized in creating aerial photos with "accuracy, quick delivery and low cost," selling primarily to city, county, state and federal governments and to corporate customers. In addition to developing its DDP-2 (Direct Digital Panoramic) camera system, the company has its own aircraft to house it. The high-resolution camera can capture details as small as 6 to 12 inches, and the company's processing system can produce orthorectified imagery that's been corrected for perspective distortions.
Google has extensive efforts under way to add geographic data to its already vast repository of information. Its Google Earth application lets users view satellite imagery, and its Google Maps service provides aerial views as well. Google also has begun integrating street-level views into its maps, a move that has raised some privacy hackles.