Comment on a sunset image posted on Facebook – purpose, uses and sharing of live camera streams on the Internet
I keep suggesting that you put in an all sky camera as a live feed to YouTube. I have been reviewing live videos like that on the Internet, and there are many of beaches, cities, mountains, forests, nature. I have found thousands of them and study them as a new Internet resource for education, research and marketing. If you have a unique natural resources like your view of the sky, you can share it with tens of millions of people on the Internet (there are about 4.8 Billion people with some level of access to the Internet now).
It requires a camera, power, Internet connection. Here is a feed from Houston Texas and one from Lake Conroe – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjqbpnigAHA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67xezi6psk4
At the bottom of the video there is a place to add links and description – if you want to meet people. The live chats allow people to talk to each other as they look at your view.
An “all sky camera” is a camera with a fish eye or 180 degree lens. It shows the whole dome of the sky. There is software to take a fish eye image and make several regular video feeds from it and show them in sequence. There are ways to take the data and show it as a 3D view of the scene that can be controlled to let viewers choose how they see it. There are tools for digital enlargement of parts of the scene. There are tools to enhance the enlarged images to improve human comprehension. There are tools to let you watch the 12 hours of recorded images (standard way live feeds are handled on YouTube) so that you can see it in a few minutes, or scan for changes. There are tools to monitor your own feed to record at high resolution, unusual or memorable events.
Most of the live cameras of places are what I call “half sky”, in that they show a good portion of the screen with sky. A beach, a mountain, a city, a vista. You could use the kind of lens above, but at night, there are stars to see over the whole sky. And during the day, there are clouds across the whole sky that might be interesting. There are apps to let viewers interact with the images. If there are stars or planets or satellites – to identify and explain them. The use of these for education (you can deliberately help Austin school children learn about the night sky) is growing. Many many places never see the sky now because of urban light pollution and blocked views. So people have to go online to see the sky at all. If people want to visit your places, what better way for them to learn or to remember, than to go (any time of day or night from anywhere in the world) as see that again. If there are areas that have people, those can be blurred.
It is an emerging technology and global phenomena. My guess is that the early adopters are going to benefit in several ways. Just a few years ago, there were only poor quality live traffic cameras and a few security cameras. Now there are tens of thousands of purpose built camera for many places and view. And, groups are learning how to use and enjoy the data streams in different ways. I try to get groups like observatories, nature conservancies, resorts, traffic monitors – to also understand the many other users and uses of these streams.
I took over the InternetFoundation.Org (net com) from Network Solutions in July 1998 after the original Internet Foundation was cancelled. I take it quite seriously, in all its aspects. Look at that beautiful scene and imaging sharing it, live, with all the people in the world. A benefit to you and to them. Even if a star cannot be seen in the sky, it can be precisely located, and its images and information available to viewers. Even if a camera scene is dark, there are tools to let the viewer lighten it, overlay day time images, and stack frames to improve image quality. Scenes can be recorded and also posted on YouTube to share special moments with others. Even if you cannot see deep sky objects like distant galaxies, directly, the information about them is often available, beautiful to look at, and has its precise location in the image as the earth rotates, and the local view of the sky changes over time.
Richard Collins, Director, The Internet Foundation