Become a Virtual NewsCopter Passenger on AirFox Live

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Chicago’s Fox affiliate WFLD has launched AirFox Live, a mashup whose spec list reads like a technophile’s pipe dream. The site combines a helicopter, GPS, live video, and Google Maps to produce a realtime data stream of the network’s newscopter that serves as uniquely informative eye-candy.

Live video taken from the helicopter’s cameras are displayed alongside an embedded Google Map that shows its current location. It might not sound particularly riveting, but I had a hard time pulling myself away from the tiny red copter as it hopped around Chicago.

Unfortunately, the site is only active when the helicopter is in the air (technically you can watch it sit at Schaumburg Airport, but have fun with that). The only guaranteed time to see it in action is from around 5:30-8:30 AM CST during the network’s morning show, which probably isn’t going to be too exciting.

But AirFox will also be active whenever the helicopter is involved in breaking news, which is where its real potential lies. The site will add a new element of information (and excitement) to events like police chases and fires. Of course, the new technology will probably only appeal to residents of Chicago, but if the program is a success we can expect other affiliates to follow suit.

You can watch a clip of AirFox in action here.

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