50 Gigapixel Camera Produced – But It’s Not Ready For Your Pocket Yet

Posted on June 26, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

Have you ever thought that the camera you carry around in your pocket on holiday is just not quite cutting it for some of those once in a lifetime views, and that perhaps it could do with being, say, 98 times more powerful?

Well, if you have, then good news! A team consisting of 50 researchers and students from Duke University have come to your aid by stitching 98 microcameras together to produce the 50 gigapixel goliath they’ve affectionately called ‘Aware 2’.

In a comment in their paper on the matter, the team discuss how, with power such as that of Aware 2, the question of where to direct your camera could be removed and replaced with the much different question of how exactly to deal with all the data pressing the shutter button captures.

50 Gigapixel Camera

The camera

The team behind the camera claim that the strength and clarity is as much as 5 times superior to that of a human with 20/20 vision – and when you consider that the 98 14-megapixel cameras boast a 120 inch horizontal field this doesn’t seem as surprising.

When the shutter button is pressed, the individual microcameras all take pictures of different parts of this field of view and internal software pieces them all together to form one massive image.


Unsurprisingly perhaps, Aware 2 isn’t quite ready to come out of the test labs just yet. The huge size makes it an unwieldy thing which you couldn’t exactly have dangling off your wrist as you walk, and it would probably overheat if you tried to take it into a hot climate anyway – a lot of the bulk of the camera is dedicated to keeping the internal hardware cool.

That said though, the surprising thing is that having this kind of power in your pocket isn’t necessarily that far off. It’s believed that, with some dedicated research, such a device could be made ‘consumer friendly’ within 5 years, and of course we’ll see other photography advances between now and then too.

To some this might beg the question of exactly how many megapixels we really need. Of course, it’s nice to capture your favourite moments or the most breathtaking views in as much clarity as possible, but perhaps there’s a limit to how much precision you really need before taking nice photos just becomes snooping – and that may well be way before the 50 gigapixel mark.

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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