Durham company to showcase 250-megapixel camera capabilities

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 06:53 PM

Their first cameras were about the size of two microwaves stacked one on top of the other, but they could takes images in great detail. That’s 1 billion pixels of detail, to be exact.

Next the Durham-based company Aqueti wanted a camera that could be carried around by a single person and mounted on a tripod. In November, they built the “qG Camera,” which can take images with 250 million pixels.

“It’s about the size of a desk-top projector,” said David Brady, a company founder and a professor of engineering at Duke University.

The qG camera is smaller and captures less detail than their gigapixel camera, but Brady said the images still contain about seven times the number of pixels in images captured by high-end cameras on the market now.

To showcase the camera’s capabilities, the company is holding an exhibit at a gallery in Raleigh on Friday. Brady said there are images of an old shed in which you read the posters on the wall and see details of boxes on the shelves. There are shots of Jordan Lake, downtown Durham and a portrait of a model.

Aqueti’s camera technology came out of project of Brady’s lab at Duke that resulted in two camera prototypes. One can take images with 1 billion pixels, or one gigapixel, and the other can take images with 1.5-billion pixels. The project was funded with $25 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Aqueti was formed to further develop and commercialize the technology that came out of the lab.

“We’re continuing to develop cameras of a variety of sizes,” Brady said. “The real goal behind our program has been to develop a flexible architecture that allows us to make cameras of any size. We can put arrays of micro-cameras in any configuration.”

While one gigapixel camera they built had 98 micro-cameras inside, the qG Camera has only 34.

Brady said they believe the technology will be the future of all camera technology, but right now, they have yet to sell one.

“If you look a few years out, we’ll be able to make consumer-grade cameras in the 250 megapixel camera scale,” he said.

In the nearer term, they’re using the technology to take contract pictures at basketball games, concerts or festivals since the cameras can take zoomable images in great detail.

He said they’re working on a capability for the camera that would allow people to take real-time “selfies” at events by logging in through their handheld smartphones.

Prints of images taken by the qG Camera will be on display from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, at the City Market Studio and Gallery on Blake Street in Raleigh. Camera demonstrations will be from 5:30 to 6 p.m.