We are located less than a mile from the University of North Carolina here in Chapel Hill, and we’re all Tar Heel fans. But there’s this other campus called Duke University that’s eight miles away from us and sometimes they do some things worth mentioning, too. We guess. Anyway, Duke researchers recently designed a gigapixel device powerful enough to read a postage stamp from more than half a mile away.
They work with DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense agency that has financed the development of tech successes such as the Internet and autonomous cars. No doubt the U.S. agency has planned better uses than reading postage stamps… a single device placed at a sports stadium or political rally could monitor thousands of people at once — and be able to zoom in at any time on anyone in the crowd.
The team already built and tested a two-and-half-foot-square gigapixel camera (1,000 megapixels) and will now construct a 10,000-megapixel version. They predict future cameras will have higher resolution (as much as 50,000-megapixel photos, using these techniques).
Achieving such ultra-high resolution requires overcoming cost, computational complexity and geometric aberrations. The Duke team created their gigapixel camera by synchronizing nearly 100 individual microcameras (to produce images with lower processing power and fewer problems).
The camera’s aperture is actually only a half-inch wide, with the camera body being made of microprocessors to handle the data and weld it together into a perfect image. With advances in computer technology, Duke researchers think the camera could shrink to the size of a hand-held device.