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Garmin announces "BirdsEye" aerial imagery subscription

Started by Boyd, January 15, 2010, 07:10:52 AM

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First leaked here:

I found this page on Garmin's site, but it just gives an error some of the time. Evidently this isn't going to be announced formally until next week:

Here's the info copied from that page, in case the link doesn't work. Heh, now we know for sure why Garmin doesn't let us make bigger custom maps from our own raster imagery.  ;)

QuoteBirdsEye™ Satellite Imagery

Part Number: 010-D0699-00
Suggested Retail Price: $ 29.99 USD

Transfer high-resolution satellite imagery to your Garmin handheld device to get a true representation of your surroundings with a subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.

Use your BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription with BaseCamp™ software to transfer an unlimited amount of satellite images to your Garmin device and seamlessly integrate those images into your handheld's maps whenever you need them.

Transfer an unlimited number of satellite and aerial images to your device with this subscription and free software BaseCamp™.

High-resolution sub-meter color satellite imagery captures the world in brilliant clarity and detail.

Allows you to layer the Garmin vector maps on your handheld (such as TOPO 100K, TOPO 24K or City Navigator®) with BirdsEye Satellite

Imagery for a real-life view of roads, buildings and terrain.

Makes it easy for hunters to perform preseason scouting, determine placement of stands and locate game pinchpoints.

Helps hikers and campers find trails/trailheads and clearings for camping areas.

Lets geocachers determine the terrain type around a cache and identify parking areas close to the caches.

Allows travelers to view tourist hot spots and landmarks from an aerial view to make excursions memorable without getting lost.


File Information
The file size of this download varies based on amount of area selected. Downloads may be stored to internal memory or SD™ card.

Use with 1 Device Only
This subscription may only be used with 1 compatible, registered device. The device must be registered in myGarmin to activate the subscription on that device. Please purchase additional subscriptions for additional devices.

Download Times
Not for use with dial-up Internet access or satellite Internet providers. Download times may vary based on area selected.

Product Compatibility
Check the Products tab to see whether this map is compatible with your Garmin device. Map subscriptions are non-refundable and non-transferrable.

Expiration Date
The subscription lasts 1 year from the activation date. You will need to renew subscription after 1 year.

Minimum Requirements
You must have Garmin's free software BaseCamp™ (version 3.0.0 or later) installed on your computer before you can use this subscription. You also need a myGarmin account. If you do not have one, we will require you to create one during the purchase process.

Windows® XP SP2 or newer
at least 1024 x 768 display
USB port
Internet access
Any Intel-based or PowerPC G4 or later Mac OS®
OS X 10.4.11 or later
at least 1024 x 768 display
USB port
Internet access


Also as the writer in the link says, 1 meter imagery is going to be very limited. Since where I go is far away from civilization, I doubt this will be very interesting to me.

I can plan a route in TopoFusion switching seamlessly between Satellite images, Topo, and and aerial.   When I'm riding, looking at a Sat image on the little screen isn't going to do anything for me.


When I view Sat. imagery in the back country from Google, TopoFusion, and others the resolution of the images is poorer than when I look at a town.

Would you waste Satellite time, and bandwidth on downloading pictures of just rocks and trees?

Just try to find a 48" wide trail in the middle of BLM land 50 miles from any dirt road, and you will see what I mean.

As to what Garmin is going to offer, I don't know. But what is out there now, and what I find useful to me, I have serious doubts as to the usefulness for my purposes.


Quote from: alpine on January 17, 2010, 07:52:24 AM
When I view Sat. imagery in the back country from Google, TopoFusion, and others the resolution of the images is poorer than when I look at a town.

It really depends on the source so the jury is still out on this I think. But there is some very nice high res orthoimagery out there for free at many of the states' websites. Here in NJ we have coverage of the whole state at better than 1 foot per pixel. Pennsylvania has the same. I posted these examples comparing Google Earth (on the iPhone) vs a Custom Map I made myself from 1ft/pixel data.

But my *guess* would be that Birdseye is more like Google Earth. We shall soon see though...


Wow that is good; I love super detailed imagery although one must remember the standard rule of GIS: the vector is more correct than raster
Dan Blomberg
Administrator - GPSFileDepot
GPS Units: Garmin Dakota 20, Garmin GPSMap 60csx, Nuvi 255W, Nuvi 250W, ForeRunner 110, Fenix 2, Tactix Bravo, Foretrex 401
See/Download My Maps!


More imagery for OZ.

USGS Seamless server, HighResolution City, Portland, ME  - 0.25ft (3inch)


Latest info at:

'The images are among the most highly-detailed available – offering 0.5 meter per pixel resolution in many areas of the United States' - USGS has offered better for years in many areas.

'BirdsEye Satellite and Aerial Imagery will be available in March 2010'

The rest is typical advertising hyp to oh-and-ah the average user.


Is there a limit to Birdseye Imagery in terms of file size or area covered, similar to the 100-tile limit for Custom Maps? If not, is there any chance they've lifted the 100-tile limit for Custom Maps with this latest update?


I have been casually playing with this a bit, but I don't have a subscription so I can't say how it works on the GPS itself. On Garmin's BirdsEye page the info implies you are only limited by the amount of memory. Really, I can't believe there was ever a technical reason for 100 tiles. I mean, DeLorme, OziExplorer, Magellan Triton all can use raster imagery without such a restrictive limit. I think it was done for marketing reasons.

I have only downloaded little areas so far on my computer. Once I selected an area and it reported I exceeded the limit (at 1GB). Elsewhere I've read that people were able to download 300MB before getting the warning. Just now I decided to try a larger download. Basecamp reported that my chosen area was 30 MB for the highest resolution data. It's a little confusing how this works; a dialog box came up very quickly saying the imagery was ready - no way I could have downloaded 30MB that fast! But what I had was very low res coverage of the entire area. Zooming in resulted in a mess.

Down at the bottom of the screen there's a tab that says "properties". A thin green progress bar appeared down there; took me awhile to notice it. But I see it is now slowly and steadily loading the full res image. If I go to the upper left corner and zoom all the way in, the full res data shows.

I don't think there's anything to prevent you from downloading overlapping areas until you have covered a huge area. But there is one interesting thing. When the BirdsEye download dialog box first appears, it says something like "Available space: 690 MB". I have 260GB free on my C: drive, so that's not it. It seems to be the amount of free space on my Oregon's internal memory.

I may be jumping to conclusions here, but that would imply I could load a really large amount of BirdsEye imagery. Others have reported that the imagery must be saved to internal memory, but you can later copy the files to the memory card. Whether or not Garmin has intentionally limited it to internal memory isn't clear. But if they have, then this is one argument for getting the "t models" since they have 4GB internal storage.

I'm looking forward to seeing more user reports. Several people indicated that their paid subscriptions aren't working, and Garmin is closed for the holidays here. I will wait for all the glitches to be ironed out before I subscribe.  :)


I'd guess that most of the US imagery will come from either the USGS (free), the NAIP (free) or state agencies that make their data available for free. Digital Globe charges for their imagery, so I suspect Garmin would only use that for areas outside the US.


It's a lot fresher than NAIP, its Digital Globe.,140.msg7048.html#msg7048
and Boyd's response.,140.msg7054.html#msg7054

Boyd, I just checked in GM again.  Your Birdseye is an exact match for 2008 Digital Globe.


I posted several examples here:,140.30.html

In New Jersey they are obviously using the NJ 2007 Digital Orthophotography available here:

In Pennsylvania they are definitely not using the PASDA 2006 orthophotography from here:

The NJ 2007 metadata says

QuoteAccess Constraints: None
Use Constraints: None; acknowledgment of "NJ Office of Information Technology (NJOIT), Office of Geographic Information Systems (OGIS)" as the data source would be appreciated. Reference date for this data set in a citation should be 2007 - 2008.

It seems like anybody can use this for whatever they want without attribution or compensation, unless there are other restrictions I'm not aware of. It's interesting that Google used the same dataset in the past, then switched to some different, greatly inferior data which evidently comes from the USDA.


Quote from: Boyd on April 03, 2010, 10:31:36 AMDown at the bottom of the screen there's a tab that says "properties". A thin green progress bar appeared down there; took me awhile to notice it. But I see it is now slowly and steadily loading the full res image. If I go to the upper left corner and zoom all the way in, the full res data shows.

In the interval between when I posted this and now, the full data for an area ~7 miles x 5 miles has downloaded to my computer and it looks very nice. I guess it depends on what you are trying to accomplish, but at least in my area BirdsEye is starting to make the whole process of making my own custom maps look like a fool's errand.  ;D

[edit] Spoke too soon! If you click outside of the BirdsEye image, the progress bar goes away. Just noticed that not all of the high res data was showing, and when I clicked inside the image I now see that I'm not quite halfway finished. Regardless, it is really easy to do this and the quality is only slightly lower than my own maps.


True, but the immediate problem is that (evidently) BirdsEye will only let you choose internal memory and not an inserted SD card.


They do indeed have a lot of homework to do, but this is a great start IMO. Not sure about the Colorado, but all models of the Dakota and Oregon have almost 1GB free internal memory. It just *might* be that Garmin doesn't want you to download anymore than that, at least for now. Guess we'll find out in the weeks to come though.

Meanwhile, the download of a 30MB image that I started earlier this afternoon has either hung or slowed to a crawl, with the progress bar still around the 50% mark.