Google, NASA, National Geographic Leaders To Speak About Scientific Use of Gigapixel Imagery

Leaders from Google Inc., NASA and National Geographic will be among the speakers exploring the scientific uses of panoramic imagery at the first Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science, Nov. 11-13, 2010, at Carnegie Mellon University.

The conference, sponsored by the Fine Foundation of Pittsburgh, will focus on new technologies for producing electronic images that contain billions of pixels and can be studied interactively in great detail. Keynote speakers Alan Eustace, Google senior vice president for engineering; Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, and Mark Bauman, executive vice president of National Geographic Television, will discuss how this new imagery can be leveraged to make scientific discoveries and to educate students and the general public about science.

"Scientists now can create highly detailed images of anything from a large archaeological dig to a microscopic image of a fly," said Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon and director of the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab. "Computers allow us to interactively study these images, zooming in on unexpected details or zooming out to understand the context of an artifact. We are just beginning to appreciate how scientists can best use gigapixel imagery, and this conference will help all of us share our ideas and techniques."

For the past three years, the Fine Foundation has sponsored a series of workshops that have trained more than 100 scientists from around the world on the use of one particular imaging system, called GigaPan. Geologists, primatologists, paleontologists, ecologists and scientists from many other disciplines have participated in these workshops and have become pioneers and innovators in the use of gigapixel imagery. Many will be returning to Carnegie Mellon to share their experiences at the November conference.

GigaPan, a combination of a robotic camera mount and a software package, was developed by Nourbakhsh’s CREATE Lab and the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group, with support from Google. The system can take hundreds of photos of a given scene and then electronically stitch the photos into a seamless panorama. Users share these images at the GigaPan website, and Google Earth features a GigaPan layer.

In addition to the keynote addresses, invited papers and poster sessions, the conference will feature a juried art show featuring large-scale prints of gigapixel panoramas. A Fine Outreach for Science workshop, which will train a new group of science fellows, will precede the conference.


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