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Megapixel On Steroids

June 22, 2012 | William Zimmerman
Duke researchers unveil a possible glimpse into HD video's future: Gigapixel

If you have been to a security tradeshow lately, you may have been wowed by Arecont Vision's 20 Megapixel Camera or blown away by the images on Avigilon's 29 MP camera. Well, researchers at Duke University have a message: You ain't seen nothing yet!

Researchers have unveiled a supercamera that can take gigapixel pictures -- that's 1,000 megapixels -- and they say the cameras could have military, commercial and civilian applications, and that handheld gigapixel cameras may one day be possible.

According to a report from Innovation News Daily, the gigapixel camera uses 98 identical microcameras in unison, each armed with its own set of optics and a 14-megapixel sensor. The microcameras, in turn, all peer through a single large spherical lens to collectively see a scene. A specially designed electronic processing unit stitches together all the partial images each microcamera takes into a giant, one-gigapixel image.

Of course, the camera looks like it's slightly bigger than a breadbox, so practical applications are probably in the distant future. The device measures 29.5 by 29.5 by 19.6 inches (75 by 75 by 50 centimeters) -- a size required to cool its electronics and keep them from overheating. However, a look at the images produced reveals a scene vaguely similar to those 20-plus megapixel demos on the security trade show floors.

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