Nearmap Ltd announces a technological leap forwards

Aerial mapping business Nearmap Ltd (ASX: NEA) this morning announced the successful implementation of its ‘HyperCamera2’ initiative this morning.

A triumph of new aerial mapping technology and the ability to run multiple words together to createanewword, HyperCamera2 is expected to substantially increase the capability of Nearmap’s product offering, as well as reduce the costs of capturing data.

Here are the main benefits of the HyperCamera2 and its associated (now upgraded) image processing platform:

  • Aerial coverage of up to 5,000 km2 per day, with plans to improve to 20,000 km2 per day in calendar year 2017, and up to 50,000 km2 per day in 2018
  • Image delivery times (to customers) are reduced and will continue to reduce in future
  • Adds ability to deliver 3D (‘3-Dimensional’) and oblique images to customers
  • Revenues are expected to begin in Financial Year 2017

With 3D and oblique capabilities now added, Nearmap improves its offering to customers, of which one new possible use is for solar companies to calculate roof slopes and shade to determine the efficiency of solar panels.

Lower costs (resulting from greater capture efficiency) are just a side benefit when we’re talking about a technological leap forward, but could prove to be significant as the company scales up its operations.

Nearmap briefly mentioned country-wide capture capabilities in its announcement, and presumably management intends to scale up to capture most of the US over the next few years. This will greatly improve its attractiveness to (big-name) businesses that operate country-wide, which could be the key to building brand recognition and attracting more customers.

US competitor EagleView is in the process of licensing its own capture systems from Australian-based SPOOKFISH FPO (ASX: SFI), with capture in the US to begin by the end of this year. Additional capture systems are expected to commence operation in calendar year 2017.

Spookfish already has its own 3D offering, and there seems to be a risk that EagleView could, if its pockets were deep enough, immediately scale up to capture the entirety of the US. This could be enough of a selling point to impact on Nearmap, although it is too early to tell.

As both the developer of its cameras and collector/seller of the images collected, Nearmap appears to be a far superior investment idea to Spookfish. Additionally, it has a much better balance sheet, the potential profits are greater, and part of the company (Spookfish) won’t get handed over to a significant investor (EagleView) when significant milestones are reached.

So while competition might put you off owning Nearmap, that doesn’t mean that you should own Spookfish instead. For now, I thought today’s announcement was great news for Nearmap shareholders, and I am happy holding my shares. They are trading 16% below the $0.56 per share I initially paid, and look to be good value.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill owns shares of Nearmap Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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