The Gigapan System was developed by Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group, with support from Google. Yeah, they can do some serious name-dropping.
That's only because what they've created is seriously cool. It's a little robot that uses technology derived from the NASA Rovers*. You mount your camera on and it proceeds to capture monster-sized panoramic images. The images are up to 200 times larger than a standard shot. What makes this so amazing is that you can actually explore the panoramas and see things you'd never had seen otherwise. Most likely you have already encountered a Gigapan image since they've appeared in an AXE advertising campaign, on SportsIllustrated.com, in several write-ups and reviews on Wired**, Popular Science and CameraTown.com. They've also been integrated into Google Earth and even captured the Presidential Inauguration. If you haven't seen a Gigapan image yet, jump over to gigapan.org and explore. If you're really gung-ho (like me!), you can join the community, have conversations around the images and take, upload and geo-code your own. You won't be disappointed. You don't even have to have a fancy camera to use it. Haven't you always wanted a robot?
**This 'Gaget Lab' article was one of my favorite since it showed the process step-by-step.
*Speaking of NASA, you have to see this glamorous galaxy image!
Gigapan is located in beautiful NW Portland, Ore. In their offices there, lots of good stuff is coming to fruition and the team needed some design and production support. StudioM prepared their User Guide to be published online; these illustrations are from that project.