Researchers working for DARPA have announced the creation of a portable gigapixel camera, with technology that should allow for 50-gigapixel cameras.
Get out your checkbooks, ladies and gentlemen; the future of camera technology is here.
Okay, so maybe it’s a little premature to be talking about purchasing this latest advancement. After all, it’s still in the developmental stage. However, we’ve just been given a glimpse into the future of camera technology, and the future is insanely detailed.
Researchers working for the US Department of Defense’s DARPA agency have developed a camera that is technically capable of taking a 50,000 megapixel image. Now, DARPA has been responsible for many advancements through the years, including the internet and self-driving cars (which are not too far away from a consumer reality). And images taken by their new camera are reportedly a thousand times more detailed than current top-of-the-line digital SLR cameras, which tend to be in the 40-50 megapixel range. Currently, the team has only built a 1,000 megapixel camera, but they are working on a 10,000 megapixel version with plans to continue pushing the capabilities as far as they can.
While gigapixel images have been taken in the past, they have usually been composites captured by multiple lower-resolution cameras, or arrays with massive computational, spacial, and monetary requirements; they also suffer from various geometric aberrations. The new camera is much smaller, and uses roughly 100 microcameras to create perfect images with much smaller individual processing requirements, before combining them all into a single image. Their camera is powerful enough to read a postage stamp at roughly a kilometer away.
Sitting at roughly 2.5 square feet, the aperture of the camera is only a half-inch wide; the rest of the camera contains the microprocessors needed to process the information and combine it into a single, coherent image. Yet the researchers are confident that with advances in microprocessor technology the size could be shrunk to the point that it could be incorporated into a hand-held device; the researchers are quick to point out that their camera already uses sensors very similar to those in the most recent iPhone.
The most likely near-term use for the technology is in security, with a single camera able to be placed in an area and monitor thousands of people with incredibly high-definition imaging. If the UK’s CCTV program has taught us anything, it’s that governments will gladly snatch this technology up in the name of security. The highly paranoid among you may now don your tinfoil hats.
Look forward to massive increases in camera capabilities in the near future as this technology becomes more readily available.