The cameras are still in the prototype development stage. But by next year, the team hope to be able to have the manufacturing process developed to be able to make super high resolution surveillance cameras at a regular rate for a variety of commercial uses. They see their cameras as potentially attractive for security, events or online publishing applications.
The Durham-based company Aqueti is looking to commercialize work done through A research project at Duke University funded with $US25 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Through the project, they’ve built two prototype cameras that are each about the size of two microwave ovens stacked on top of each other.
“The camera can take images with a billion pixels, or 1 gigapixel, as well as a 1.5-gigapixel camera, said David Brady, a professor of electrical engineering at Duke University. Brady is the principal of the research project and a founder of Aqueti. He said the team was now also working on a 5-gigapixel camera.
The cameras were constructed through a collaboration by researchers and engineers. Duke University was the lead institution. Others were involved from businesses and institutions including the University of California, San Diego, RPC Photonics, Distant Focus Corp., the University of Arizona, and Raytheon Corp.
In their camera design, micro-cameras are grouped behind a spherical lens. In one of the cameras they constructed, there is an array of 98 micro-cameras behind the lens. The optics of the camera make up only about 3 percent of its size, said Scott McCain, president of Aqueti.
According to McCain, the team is not just at a research stage anymore – they’re ready to build cameras. There’s a goal of building 20 to 100 cameras next year, and the team wants to make sure it they can hit price and performance targets demanded by customers.
“We’re really trying to push the cost of the cameras down,” McCain said.