A few may remember the original launch of livelook.com back in late 2006. It was the first webcam site to incorporate geolocated webcam records and to use crowdsourcing to create a directory of webcams. It was exciting to see the site grow, especially the story in spiegel.de and Boulder new tech publicity. Livelook was a self funded project and needed more capital to grow than I could provide. In 2008, I had an offer from another technology startup to buy the domain name, effectively shutting down the site.
One of the last Livelook features was called sunset cams, where you could view cams at sunset anywhere in the world. This feature was great but exposed a lot of data quality issues with the crowdsourced cam data. Making that feature work to it’s full potential has been a goal with this re-launch.
Please take a look at the beta release of the new livelookweather.com site. The sunset cams feature has been improved with better quality data. Please give feedback on what you think and how it could be improved.
I’ve recently come across an interesting webcam network from Mexico. Webcams de Mexico is a terrific showcase of the beautiful beaches, towns and mountains of Mexico. The image below of Monterrey is a terrific view of a city I had no idea was so beautiful. The sky was incredibly blue on all the cams today and certainly makes me interested in visiting.
The network of nearly fifty live cams is completely standardized on Mobotix equipment. The Mobotix cams provide high resolution images and seem to be very reliable with all the cams up and operational.
Site features include an archive of images, timelapse and a high refresh rate of 10 seconds or less. The biggest network is getting so big the navigation bar at the top has become kind of cumbersome, but that’s a good problem.
The economics of the site are not that clear but the it’s probably supported by tourism development funding of some sort. The site displays links and logos for the camera host sites but those links are not overly ad focused. The fifty Mobotix cams would be at least $60k investment plus the archive system would need a large storage capacity. Software development costs for the site would also be somewhat substantial.
The Webcams de Mexico team has built a world class network of images. They’ve done a wonderful job promoting the beauty of Mexico. The images really help bring some of these cities I’ve only heard of to life. This is an excellent model for other tourism promotion groups. The ever changing content of webcam images brings people back to the site and builds a solid connection with visitors.
Aspen / Snowmass ski resort in Colorado has introduced a high resolution panoramic camera system commonly used in Europe. Switzerland based Seitz manufactures the 66 megapixel Roundshot system and has dozens of installations around Europe. When you have a spot as beautiful as Aspen it certainly makes sense to showcase it with the best possible technology. The overview shot from Red Mountain is spectacular and a view only the billionaires normally get to see.
The Denver Post recently described the new cams saying they will replace blurry mountaintop still images. I think there’s still a place for still images and modern IP webcams can provide some very crisp shots. US ski resorts for the most part have been slow to upgrade webcams first introduced more than ten years ago. Many resorts could significantly boost their live images by taking advantage of newer megapixel IP cams and modern wireless coverage. Most of the current fleet of ski cams are tied to base lodge locations that originally had wired internet. With modern 3 and 4g service covering most ski mountains, resorts are no longer limited to the security cam type shot of the base area. Part of what makes the Aspen Roundshot cams so compelling is their power to immerse the viewer in the beauty of the ski area. Even the streaming cams found at many ski areas fail to really pull the viewer in for long. There’s no archive, best shots, etc. The downsides of the Roundshot system are the huge screen format needed to really appreciate it, Adobe Flash, ten minute image updates and lack of social media sharing of a preview image.
Roundshot seems to be an excellent application of webcam technology being used to convert site visitors to booking a trip. My guess is that Aspen will see a great return on this investment.
SunDiegoLive.com has a nice streaming image of San Diego. Excellent image quality and terrific subject matter make this a top cam. For a streaming cam they’ve done a really smart thing by providing a semi-live static preview image. This is an excellent way to distribute your image to lots of potential linkers, but still pull people to your site for the full size streaming images. Inbound links will help your SEO rankings and an semi-live image is a lot more compelling than a plain text link. Any webcam owner with a streaming image should consider providing a preview. An example from SunDiegolive is below. Here’s the example linking page.