With Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks and the increasing amount of evidence that both private companies and the government are spying on our online activity, tech paranoia is now commonplace. A new iPhone app aims to either aid or appease those fears of being watched, depending on how you look at it.
The app, called SpyMeSat, notifies iPhone users when a spy satellite or an “unclassified imagine satellite” is above their location, presumably taking pictures of them from space. Greenbelt Md.-based company Orbit Logic designed the app, which also shows the orbit paths of satellites nearby, which is simply something cool to know no matter your level of privacy-invasion paranoia.
“I actually got the idea for the app from talking to friends outside the aerospace industry who were always very interested in space and satellites and imaging from space. This app answers those questions in a fun and interactive way,” Herz said in an interview with Space.com.
SpyMeSat makes it easy to understand what man-made objects are moving through space in the areas directly above you and around you. The app sources information from a wide variety of sources, including the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a website called CelesTrak and other public data.
Those seriously concerned with privacy issues may be disappointed that the app doesn’t display any information that’s not available to the public elsewhere. It simply displays it in an easy-to-understand manner in relation to your location (and greatly simplifies the relatively complex math involved). The company believes that’s a good thing, so that it can not be used by terrorists or other criminals attempting to avoid being photographed by spy satellites.
“We were careful to only include satellites that are unclassified and whose orbits are published by NORAD. Even the sensor data — resolution, etc. — was taken only from the websites published by the satellite operators. So everything SpyMeSat is using is open and public. Even the computations are basic orbit math taught in colleges everywhere,” Herz told Space.com.
The app is currently available in the iTunes store for $1.99.