(Left) Giga-pixel camera concept (Right) Assembly of the camera prototype (via Duke University)
A collaboration of electrical engineers from Duke University, University of Arizona, University of California (San Diego) and the Distant Focus Corp have recently designed a super HD 50 gigapixel camera. That’s an astounding 50,000 megapixels of clarity (compared to 8 to 40 of most consumer devices), 5 times better than 20/20 vision for humans! A team of engineers designed the camera, dubbed AWARE2, using 98 (14 megapixel) separate individual micro-cameras. All operate independently, with a monocentric objective lens that provides a 1200 X 400 (degree) horizontal field of view (FOV) at the center. Light is gathered by the centered monocentric lens and routed to each of the micro-cameras.
Aware2 functional concept (via Duke University)
Each camera takes a picture of its field of view and then uses an on-board GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and specialized software to piece all the images together. As it stands right now, AWARE2 measures 30 inches square and 20 inches in width. However, the camera’s themselves only encompass roughly 3% of the overall camera while the rest of the space is dedicated to housing the GPU, circuit-boards and cooling system. The team states that future versions of the camera will obviously be reduced in size as the miniaturization of electronics decreases over time.
The AWARE2 is only capable of taking black and white photos and video at a paltry 1 giga-pixel and 3 frames per second. That is not the end of the story, the team is already working on a revised version of the AWARE camera that will be capable of taking color photos and video at over 10 giga-pixels. With future miniaturization, the team believes they can push the camera’s resolution all the up to, and possibly over, 50 giga-pixels, which translates to ½ of a terabyte of data every second! The engineers also state that a commercialized AWARE camera system will be available, and affordable, within five years for the general public while much more powerful versions will be allotted to the military (as the project came about through DARPA).