[SatNews] Orbital Insight, a new company focused on creating market intelligence for decision makers and investors in a wide range of industries, has partnered with Sequoia in a $8.7 million Series A round, with participation by Google Ventures, Lux Capital, Bloomberg Beta, and citizen.vc.—Dr. Bill Coughran represents Sequoia on the Orbital Insight board.
The company uses expertise in image processing, neural networks, machine learning, and statistical analysis to glean valuable insights from satellite images for a diverse body of customers, including hedge funds, real estate developers, insurance companies, government agencies, and international development and environmental nonprofit organizations. Orbital Insight’s unique, cutting edge application of satellite image analysis allows it to transform various industries with a rich understanding of relevant economic and social trends at an unprecedented scale and depth.
The convergence of more powerful big data analysis tools, more intelligent machine learning algorithms, and more readily available satellite imagery has laid the groundwork for Orbital Insight to be a pioneer in the macro analysis of satellite imagery and other geospatial datasets. Many of Orbital’s customers are companies seeking information independent from government sources. So far, the company has developed data products that forecast end-of-season crop harvest based upon mid-season spectral analysis and quarterly retail performance based upon counting cars in parking lots, as well as measure the rate of construction in China’s real estate sector and the fluctuations in global crude oil inventories months ahead of similar figures reported by other organizations.
"There are so many possibilities for satellite images to help us better understand the world we live in today," said Orbital Insight Founder, Dr. James Crawford. "We are looking at the world in a new way by processing millions of satellite images at a time and analyzing them using neural networks and other techniques. This ‘macroscope’ can help all kinds of companies better understand their industry, context, and future.
Crawford’s experience as head of Autonomy and Robotics at NASA Ames Research Center and as the Engineering Director of Google Book Search, where he was in charge of Google's project to scan, index, and make searchable the world's books, gives him the correct background to guide the complex process of turning images into insight at Orbital Insight. The company is currently working with select customers, and the new funding will be used to hire engineers to build out new data product lines for the finance, retail, real estate, insurance, government, and nonprofit sectors, as well as create a small sales team.