The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — DARPA — has recently completed successful tests on two gigapixel-class cameras as part of a program it hopes will provide even more advanced imagery for use in military operations. The two prototypes tested had analogous resolutions of 0.96-gigapixels and 1.4-gigapixels, respectively, each utilizing a spherical objective lens paired with between 100 and 150 small cameras. Using the array of smaller cameras allows for better image correction and more precise focus, DARPA says, resulting in images that have far less distortion than those generated with current systems.
The cameras were developed as part of DARPA's AWARE program (that breaks down to Advanced Wide FOV Architectures for Image Reconstruction and Exploitation). The program aspires to create imaging solutions that can be used on the ground or in the air, and even be small enough to be used as a scope for a single person. At two-and-a-half feet square and 20 inches deep, the prototypes here are still quite aways off from the intended goal, but with DARPA on the case — and aiming for 50-gigapixel cameras down the line — we imagine we'll be seeing rapid progress in the years ahead.