Giga-pixel aerial imaging

Courtesy of a Google News Alert on the keyword “surveillance.”

Semi-professional digital SLRs have recently broken the ten megapixel barrier and very high-end models reach upwards of twenty MP. Impressive for printers but they can not even approach the gigapixel sensor described in this article. Don’t expect to find it at the local electronic retailer: it is designed for ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconaissance) applications. In other words, this is the next generation eye in the sky. Mounted on a gyroscopically stabilized platform with 6 axis, this system boasts four focal planes with 92 five megapixels sensors on each to provide sixty-degree field of view at a resolution of 15cm on the ground. Dubbed ARGUS-IS, the design is as much an information processing marvel as it is an optical one: those sensors generate vast amounts of data, carried around by the same type of fiberoptic cables comprising the Internet backbone and compressed on board the airplane before being transmitted to the downlink through a broadband channel approaching 300 Mbps.

If the trickle-down effect holds for surveillance technology, there will be some traces of this in consumer electronics one day.


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