If you’re the owner of a top-of-the-range smartphone like the iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy S2, you are probably very impressed with your phone’s 8 megapixel camera. Rightly so, you can take some stunning shots with something that fits easily in your pocket.
However, thanks to R&D funded by the US military, megapixel cameras are so last decade … they are about to start using GIGApixel cameras for drone surveillance in places like Afganistan.
DARPA have developed something called the ARGUS-IS, which stands for the Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance – Imaging System. Simply put, this is 1.8 gigapixel camera fitted to a ‘Hummingbird’ drone which can hover at 20,000 feet and therefore scan a 25 square mile area in real-time in enough detail to watch individual people. Argus is the name of a monster in Greek mythology which was said to have 100 eyes!
If that wasn’t ‘Big Brother’ enough for you, the operator of the drone/camera can specify up to 65 different ‘windows’ that the camera will fix on and track, even if the targets move around (e.g. like a car). Argus program manager Brian Leininger said “If you have a bunch of people leaving a place at the same time, they no longer have to say ‘Do I follow vehicle one, two, three or four’ … they can now say ‘I will follow all of them, simultaneously and automatically'”
It is obvious why the US military wanted this technology and I doubt it will be that long before certain metropolitan police forces have something similar to monitor protests/riots/ghettos/etc.. No doubt next year the technology will be better & cheaper.
Question is, how many years will it be before the first hand-held gigapixel camera?