We’re all pretty proud and excited on the Microsoft UltraCam team as we celebrate 10 years of the UltraCam. The original system, the UltraCamD, was first introduced in 2003. It offered 11,750 PAN pixels across the flight strip and all storage and computing components were hardwired in a unit (SCU) that was external to the sensor head itself, with numerous cables running between the two devices. The technology has come a long way since the UltraCamD and is now in its third generation as of the introduction of the UltraCam Eagle in March 2011. The Eagle features a 20,010 PAN pixel image footprint across the flight path, integrates all system components into the sensor head–including storage, computing and flight management/georeferencing (via UltraNav)–so that all system components sit above the camera hole in the aircraft and cables, connectors and external devices are minimized. Recently, the UltraCam got a new slant with the introduction of the UltraCam Osprey, a nadir/oblique digital aerial camera system announced at the ASPRS 2013 conference in Baltimore, Maryland and recently discussed in this blog.
A newcomer to the aerial camera market in 2003, the UltraCam has long since been a mature product as evidenced by its worldwide market acceptance. By the time the second generation UltraCam–the UltraCamX–was introduced, there were 46 UltraCam systems installed. Since then, and with the introduction of additional UltraCam models not already mentioned that include the UltraCamXp, UltraCamLp, and UltraCam Falcon, the worldwide installations of UltraCam systems has grown to an impressive 280!
Meanwhile, software support for processing UltraCam data has also come a long way from what it was in the early days of the UltraCamD. Once just a vision for a complete photogrammetric workflow, the software–redeveloped and introduced to the market as UltraMap 1.0 in 2005–is now in its third generation with UltraMap 3.0 and offers UltraCam customers the ability to take UltraCam data all the way from raw data to high-density point clouds, digital surface models, and orthomosaics.
Did I mention that all this makes us very proud on the UltraCam team? It does. And for me, personally, when I look at all that we have accomplished in ten years, and the resources (in terms of funding and brain power) it required to get here, I am impressed that there continue to be newcomers to the digital aerial camera arena. The barriers to market entry are substantial to reach a 10-year anniversary with a product portfolio of that of the UltraCam.
Happy 10th anniversary, UltraCam! You’ve come a long way, baby!
– Jerry Skaw, Sales & Marketing, Microsoft UltraCam Team