Gigapan is a project focused on photographs. The team consists of many organizations, educational institutions and companies, including the Carnegie Mellon University, NASA, GigaPan Systems, DeepLocal Inc. and the Google Corporation. The organization’s goal is to help people from all over the globe learn about the planet and its people through images. This will be done by producing affordable and accessible technology and information. Gigapan is currently working on three different technologies. The first is a robotic camera mount that can take high resolution panoramic images using any standard digital camera. Next is a software solution that can construct high resolution gigapixel panoramic photos. The third item is a new website that allows visitors to explore, share and comment on gigapixel panoramas.
The Gigapan project began as a collaborative effort between the Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Intelligent Systems Division and the Carnegie Mellon University. It also received support from Google. The original intent was to facilitate the ability to capture gigapixel photos and present them as a single image. Today, the project’s three main technological endeavors help carry the team even closer to that goal.
Gigapan is a very unique project. Photographs can share a great deal of information about an area. The Gigapan project will focus on bringing those images to life with great detail that can help encourage exploration and interaction from those who view the images. The project team is working on three technologies that could prove extremely valuable for many groups of people, even those who are not professional photographers.
The Gigapan website welcomes visitors the best way it knows how: through panoramic photos. The homepage features a large header that includes a moving photo that shows the user how highly detailed the image is by zooming in. A search bar is provided at the top of the page while news, events and site information can be found tucked under the panorama. The design is appealing, although not entirely graceful.
A visitor can use the Gigapan search tool without creating an account. Those who want to access all the site’s features can click on the orange, underlined “Create a free account” link found under the header image, in the “share” column. The registration form requires an email address, username, password, country location and terms of service agreement. Additional fields are optional and include first and last name, profile image, latitude, longitude, a brief biography or description, tags and a list of personal gear the user owns (with a space for model, description and an image of each item).
A new user can create a Gigapan account for free. There are no subscription fees or other charges for accessing the website features. The entire project is geared towards not only developing gigapixel photo technology, but presenting it in a way that is affordable to everyone. The site works well to this end with no payment required. The only cost associated with the site is the purchase of equipment, such as the Epic robotic camera mount. This is an optional purchase and not required to enjoy the benefits of a Gigapan account.
Almost anyone can enjoy Gigapan, although those with an interest in photography and the world can get more out of the website and project behind it. The user can discover new technology being developed by the Gigapan team and try out the interactive website features.