Digital cameras produce gigapixel panoramas

SEPTEMBER 28, 2007--Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) and the NASA Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, CA, USA) have built a robotic device that enables digital cameras to produce GigaPans.

Sep 28th, 2007

SEPTEMBER 28, 2007--Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA, USA; www.cmu.edu), in collaboration with scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, CA, USA; www.nasa.gov/centers/ames), have built a low-cost robotic device that enables any digital camera to produce gigapixel panoramas called GigaPans. The technology gives people a new way to make and share images of their environment. It is being used by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to make Civil War sites accessible on the Web. To promote further sharing of this imagery, Carnegie Mellon has launched a public Web site, www.gigapan.org, where people can upload and interactively explore panoramic images of any format.

Researchers have begun a public beta process with the GigaPan hardware, Web site, and software. The hardware technology enabling GigaPan images is a robotic camera mount, jointly designed and manufactured by Charmed Labs of Austin Texas (www.charmedlabs.com). The tripod-like mount makes it possible for a digital camera to take hundreds of overlapping images of landscapes, buildings, or rooms. Then, using software developed by Carnegie Mellon and Ames, these images can be arranged in a grid and digitally stitched together into a single image that could consist of tens of billions of pixels.

These huge image files can be explored by zooming in on features of interest in a manner similar to Google Earth. "We have taken imagery and made it a new tool for exploration and for enhancing global understanding," said Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor in the School of Computer Science Robotics Institute. Nourbakhsh and Randy Sargent, senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon West in Moffett Field, CA, USA, led GigaPan's development. Nourbakhsh and his colleagues recently began to work with UNESCO's International Bureau of Education and its Associated Schools Network on a project that will link school children in different parts of the world in exploring issues of cultural identity through a classroom project.

To embed a GigaPan on your Web site, see gc.cs.cmu.edu/gigapan/embed.html .

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