What would be your dream camera’s resolution? 10, 12, 15 megapixels? How about 1474 megapixels? Sony are exploring the ‘gigapixel’, which is made up of around 1.5 billion pixels and want to bring it to the PS3 and PSP. To put that into perspective, printing a gigapixel image out of a printer would need paper anywhere up to or over 76 meters in length. Gigapixel images are extremely rare to find right now, and for a good reason: who the hell needs an image that big? For most of us, digital photos will either remain stuck in our ‘My PIctures’ folder, or printed off on the same sized piece of gloss paper as the rest of the photo album. Gigapixel tech in 2009 is being used to record historical events. For example, a 1.5 gigapixel panoramic image was taken at President Obama’s inaugural address. Take a look at it here, and try zooming into individual people’s faces using the zoom tool. Can you find Obama? Bush? The woman leaning into the man with the glasses as she facepalms? Massive pictures have never been particularly functional for communal viewing, but are cool to look at when you’re on a computer. After all, what’s Google Earth?
The only gigapixel images that exist at the moment are created by shoving together lots of individual images together. Bulky equipment (now available commercially) takes hold of your regular camera and takes a few thousand images very quickly. It then compiles all images together, making up the bigger picture. Sony are experimenting with this idea by working with a number of high-quality images and compiling them together using the PS3 and PSP. Not in way you think, however.
Say you have one image of a newspaper article on your PS3 or PSP. You start zooming into it. When you get a certain way in, you notice a dot to one side. You zoom into the dot, and it turns out to be a whole new article in full quality. So you keep zooming, and you come to that pinprick-sized article. Zoom in even more, and there’s a thumbnail image. Zoom into that, and it’s a high quality video. Zoom out and you can keep zooming until you see the text from the original article. This is done by embedding seperate high-quality images into one image. So they’re all separate images, but dynamically move together and fade in and out to look like a gigapixel image. Best bit? Because they’re all separately loaded at the correct quality when needed, the whole zooming experience is very slick, and just the same as zooming into a normal JPG image on the console. If you’re aware of Microsoft’s ‘Seadragon’, you’ll know that these two techs are starting to sound increasingly similar. That’s because they pretty much are.
Sony are taking this a step further. This new format of image viewing could come in handy for some sort of online newsletter. So some of the text could be linked to other pages. Click a link, and the image zooms in, revealing the next page inside the full stop at the end of the sentence. You could zoom out at any time to view the bigger picture. One example they give is embedded advertisements. Zooming into a mosquito on a man’s face will bring up an ad next to it. This could just as easily be information about that mosquito, or anything else. Take a look at the demonstration below to see how Sony are looking at big pictures.