Billion-Pixel Pictures Allow Ultra-Zooming for Science

Brian Handwerk in National Geographic News:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a thousand-megapixel picture worth?

Great Temple Excavation at Petra, Jordan

Such “gigapixel” pictures allow viewers to zoom in from say, a panoramic view of President Obama's inauguration to the solemn expression on his face—as in one of the new technology's most famous applications.

For scientists—many of whom gathered in Pittsburgh last week for training in new gigapixel technology—these ultra-zoomable images are becoming tools to improve the study of archaeology, geology, biology, and more.

Developed by GigaPan systems, a for-profit company, the new GigaPan system allows users to create these superhigh-resolution panoramas with ordinary digital cameras.

With camera attached, a robotic GigaPan tripod systematically photographs a scene with thousands of close-up images, which are later stitched together with proprietary software.

More here.