Photos from a half mile away? Duke’s supercamera makes it possible

Photos from a half mile away? Duke's supercamera makes it possible (Image 1)

Apple’s recently released iPhone 5s has an 8-megapixel camera, whereas Nikon began selling a 36.3-megapixel professional DSLR camera just last year.

But imagine a 250-megapixel camera.

Duke University has developed a quarter Gigapixel camera comprised of 34 micro-cameras that each takes a single picture, which are then stitched together for one giant photo. A panoramic photo shot from a half a mile away with the Aqueti qG, for instance, can be cropped 10 to 20 times before showing pixelation.

“It has several lenses, and a 14-pixel sensor on it,” explained Scott McCain, with Aqueti. “Each of these lenses stares into a large lens in the front, which gives us the high optical resolution.”

Aqueti — which is a spinoff of Duke’s Applied Quantum Technologies — is looking to market the groundbreaking technology to consumers.

McCain said this camera would come in handy at “large events, large social gatherings, concerts, sporting events — things where there’s a lot of action.”

But the qG could be used for more than recreation.

This is something the Department of Defense is interested in, McCain said, explaining, “The Navy is interested in this for ship protection. So if they are looking for low flying aircraft or speedboats with our camera, you don’t miss anything.”

The Department of Defense actually funded the initial development of Gigapixel technology at Duke. With the quarter Gigapixel, Aqueti hopes to introduce the technology to consumers.

The qG in its current form weighs more than 33 pounds, but McCain said the camera will be about a quarter of that size before it hits the market in about a year.

McCain said the camera will initially come with a hefty $50,000 price tag. However, like any new technology, he expects the price to drop a few years down the road.

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