LONDON – Engineers from Duke University and the University of Arizona have developed a camera with the potential to capture up to 50-Gpixels of data with a resolution over a 120 degree horizontal field that is five times better than 20/20 human vision.
The camera was created by synchronizing 98 lower resolution cameras in a single device and although the camera is desktop unit much of this is processing electronics with scope for integration. The research team reckons handheld gigapixel cameras could be in use by consumers within five years.
The camera was developed by a team led by David Brady, Professor of Electric Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, along with scientists from the University of Arizona, the University of California San Diego, and Distant Focus Corp. The work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and details were published in journal Nature.
The method of operation is simular to other multi-sensor cameras in which each sensor captures information from a specific area of the field of view and then a processor combines and correlates the data to produce a single detailed image.
"While novel multiscale lens designs are essential, the primary barrier to ubiquitous high-pixel imaging turns out to be lower power and more compact integrated circuits, not the optics," said Professor Brady in a report on the Duke University website. "A shared objective lens gathers light and routes it to the microcameras that surround it, just like a network computer hands out pieces to the individual work stations. Each gets a different view and works on their little piece of the problem. We arrange for some overlap, so we don’t miss anything," said Michael Gehm, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Arizona.
The 50-Gpixel camera has 98 image sensors inside a main frame
The prototype camera measures 2.5 feet on a side and is 20-inches deep. Most of the volume is occupied by electronics and the optics occupies only 3 percent. This gives a great deal of scope for further integration and to reduce the size to make the camera more practical. "As more efficient and compact electronics are developed, the age of hand-held gigapixel photography should follow," Professor Brady said in the Duke University account.
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