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Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • Jun 21, 2012

Gigapixel Camera AWARE-2 From Duke University Takes A Billion Pixel Photo!

One billion pixel snapshot. This was the aim of an engineers team from Duke University. And successful they were in capturing it. The team developed a camera called AWARE-2 with funding from DARPA for this purpose. AWARE-2 uses 98 microcameras, each with a 14-megapixel sensor, grouped around a shared spherical lens. The camera captures a 120 degrees wide and 50 degrees tall panoramic view. Each of the 98 microcameras have an autofocus feature and runs exposure algorithms independently. Once the 98 sub-images are combined into a single large one at the rate of three frames per minute, one can see the minutest details of the picture be it near or far, bright or dark.

[caption id="attachment_36433" align="aligncenter" width="630"][​IMG] A one-gigapixel image (top) shows minute details (bottom) of the skyline in Seattle, Washington[/caption]

You might wonder, for what use are these gigapixel cameras built? Well, the immediate applications will be in the military surveillance systems and research purposes. Independent consumers might want to wait because right now each camera costs US$100,000 to manufacture and the team behind this thinks that large-scale production can bring down the costs to about $1,000. But, imagine a football fan watching a gigapixel video of the game to follow his own interests instead of the camera operator's. Quite tempting, isn't it?

Another interesting part is that the team wants to add microcameras and let each final snapshot be created from a lump sum of 50 gigapixels! That raises our concerns regarding the storage of such huge files. Because each photos will create multi-gigabytes of data and would make conventional file formats look insufficient. But then, that just builds more room for innovation. What do you think?


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