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Join Aqueti on a crowd-inspired road-trip through North Carolina with the world's first digital gigapixel camera. Read more

Durham, NC Photography
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Join Aqueti on a crowd-inspired road-trip through North Carolina with the world's first digital gigapixel camera.

Durham, NC Photography
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Aqueti
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Aqueti

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About this project

Carolina Zoomin'

Be a part of the first ever zoomable image collection of memorable events throughout the great state of North Carolina! Share the experience of the launch of a new photographic technology--- be in the pictures with thousands of others, help us plan the most memorable moments to capture, and explore our image collection after the trip.

Our gigapixel images are big, REALLY BIG. You zoom into the image just like viewing an online map but still get the entire picture..... all at once! We're going to ZOOM across the state with our camera for a few weeks and share our experiences. We'll have workshops to get a behind the scenes look at our cameras and how they work. The Carolina Zoomin' backer community will plan the best places to take the camera, and we'll have open shoots where anyone can be a part of the picture. After we're done zoomin', we'll have three big exhibitions where the camera creators and community can share experiences. We'll make a short video of our adventures, too, and exhibit 30-foot, gallery-quality prints of the most iconic shots.

Be one of the first surfers in a picture on the Outer Banks, where all the waves you can see are frozen in time, with a historic lighthouse in the background. Capture a mountain sunrise with 1000 other nature-lovers off the Blue Ridge Parkway.....zoom in on a demolition derby in the middle of the action..... the sky's the limit. Check out the above video of our camera test run at the Durham Farmers Market to get a sense of what it's like to capture and explore pictures from our camera. The snaps below preview the ability to acquire the combination of wide field of view and detail just not possible with conventional photography.

Top: first-generation Aware2 prototype images from the Durham Bulls ballpark and the Pocosin Lakes National Refuge; Bottom: Second-generation Aware2 prototype images from a graduation ceremony and the Durham Farmers Market
Top: first-generation Aware2 prototype images from the Durham Bulls ballpark and the Pocosin Lakes National Refuge; Bottom: Second-generation Aware2 prototype images from a graduation ceremony and the Durham Farmers Market

We want to take our camera to events planned by our Kickstarter community. Pledge any amount, and you'll get to suggest cool photo ideas, and the whole Carolina Zoomin' community will discuss what are the best ideas. The best ideas that work into our schedule will become a reality. What makes a great gigapixel picture? While we think they'd be great to have at sporting events, concerts, festivals, and weddings, we really want to know what YOU think would make a great shot.

We'll have a website showing a map of all of our shoots, and you can go online and tag yourself and interesting things in the picture if we meet our stretch goals. Only backers will be able to tag the pictures, and you can share them with your friends on your social network of choice.

Where are you going to be, when?

We're planning on hitting the road later this summer, and will tour around the state, using input from our backers to decide where to take the camera.

We're going to have stretch goals of $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000. We'll do 5 shoots if we reach our minimum goal, 10 the second, 15 the third, and 20 the last. Tagging and social network integration will happen if we hit our first stretch goal.


Can I come see the camera?

Yes! Our photoshoots are going to be fun, and you can be in as many shots as you can make it to. We'll post the dates and times for our events to our backers so you'll know where we are, and when. If you want a real in-depth background on the camera, we'll have 3 workshops where we'll go through the details of what's in our cameras, how we take pictures, and how we edit them. We'll have three of these workshops, one on July 17 in the Wilmington area, one on July 30 in the Asheville area, and one on August 6 in the Durham area.

My Cellphone Takes Panoramas, What's So Special About This Camera?

You can snap wide-angle pictures in panorama mode, but you're still limited by the resolution of the lens of the cellphone. On the other hand, you could use your big SLR and takes hundreds of pictures at hundreds of different times and perspectives. But you can't capture the "moment" of hundreds of different and simultaneous perspectives like our camera does.

Tagging and Sharing the Images

If we meet one of our stretch goals, we'll add tagging software so you can tag yourself, your friends, and interesting things in the images to share with your friends. Our images are so big you can't really appreciate all the hidden gems inside the billion pixels in each image.... so having a way to share what you find makes it fun.

Tech Overview (Really geeky, I know)

Cameras have gotten a lot smaller in recent years, but images haven’t really improved. Think about computers in the 50’s and now, and magazine covers in the 50’s and now. Almost all cameras have one lens, and one image sensor, whether it be film or digital. Aqueti’s Aware cameras use an array of small image sensors, similar to how a parallel processor uses hundreds of small cores to efficiently process information. The individual microcameras are shown below, along with their control modules that house high-performance field-programmable-gate-arrays (FPGAs) to allow coordinated exposures of all the micro-cameras, image buffering, camera control, etc.

Components of our micro-cameras--- lenses, readout electronics, and sensor
Components of our micro-cameras--- lenses, readout electronics, and sensor

All of these micro-cameras stare through one large lens giving each one a telescopic view of the world. What this means for cameras is we can achieve panoramic fields-of-view similar to the human eye, 120 degrees wide by 40 degrees high, with the resolution of a large telephoto lenses. A prototype camera system is shown below during our test run at the local Farmers Market. Our camera this summer will be about a third of the size of this one.

Prototype Aware2 camera used during Durham Farmers Market Shoot
Prototype Aware2 camera used during Durham Farmers Market Shoot

While we are still working out issues in regards to our exposure levels and focus, our image quality is roughly comparable to consumer level SLRs, as shown below. While a pro camera with a fast prime lens will have better image quality and better low light sensitivity for capturing one image, the resolution and field-of-view trade-off will always be there. Each of our microcameras has a 14-megapixel sensor, and we'll have 160 microcameras, so we'll have 2.24 raw gigapixels before our stitched image is created. After we're done, the picture is about 55,000 by 18,000 pixels. Trying to match this with one sensor would require it to be sized at 77 mm x 25 mm (about 2 full-frame sensors wide), with 1.4 micron pixels! Our depth-of-field is about equivalent to a ~100-150 mm telephoto on a full-frame sensor stopped to ~f/10. 

Comparison of our camera (left) vs. a digital SLR (right)
Comparison of our camera (left) vs. a digital SLR (right)

Why are you on Kickstarter?

The technology behind the Aware cameras has been developed over the last few years at Duke University. At Aqueti, we are in the rocky area of transitioning technology from proof-of-concept prototypes to a sustainable business.

As part of that transition, we are building the first production run of the cameras over the course of this summer, and believe Kickstarter to be a great way to enable early responders to participate in cutting edge technology--- both in the creative ideas related to the production and sharing of gigapixel pictures.

What are our funds going to?

The trip: We need to rent a van to safely drive the camera around and all the associated electronics/computers, and a place to stay on our travels through the state. Depending on the venue chosen, we may need specialized equipment such as a scissor lift or a crane to get the ideal shot.

The rewards: We need to print out and mail all the pictures, and get t-shirts that won't fall apart after the first wash.

The shows: We want to make our final shows memorable, so want to have a venue that can let us exhibit our prints, and then have a viewing area where we can all watch the video from our trip. We want to get real high-quality exhibition-quality prints for our largest resolution pictures, and these aren't cheap.

Camera odds and ends: These cameras are only in their second generation, so we need to be able to anticipate repairs/modifications, etc., and be prepared for Murphy's Law.

Software: Since we’ve only been demonstrating camera images internally we haven’t worked much on our user interface. We will do some software development to make images easy to view, and develop an online platform for viewing that can handle big spikes in demand.

Thanks

Getting the Aware cameras to where they are today took a lot of work by a lot of people over a lot of time.

Risks and challenges

Assembling our cameras together is a complex process with hundreds components. But our team has put together a number of custom cameras over the last few years and are extremely persistent when it comes to making things work. We've done our test run at the Farmers Market where we acquired 50 pictures in under an hour and a half with one of the prototype cameras. We might have some delays if some of our components break, but we'll make sure we do the photo shoots that we commit to during the project.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Rewards

  • You selected
    $10 reward

    3 backers

    You become an official member of the Carolina Zoomin’ team! You get exclusive access to our Kickstarter blog, emailed project updates and advance access to our shooting schedule. You get to suggest photo shoot ideas and schedules. We will work with event organizers and locations to turn your ideas into a list of possible locations. You get to discuss shooting strategy and locations with the team on our blog and via webcasts. You then get to vote on where we go. You will know when and where to show up and be in the picture.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $25 reward

    7 backers

    You get to celebrate your position on the team with a uniform, a custom designed Carolina Zoomin' T-shirt. We are having a t-shirt designed by Pork Fried Art (http://www.porkfriedart.com/), the same people that made our awesome trip logo. Wear your fun shirt to your favorite photoshoot.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $50 reward

    1 backer

    You get 1 ticket to join the team at one of our 3 exhibitions (Asheville weekend of Sept 14, Wilmington weekend of Sept 21, and Durham weekend of Sept 28)! After our trip we're going to go through all the images with our backers and pick the most stellar shots, and have them printed full-res (30' x 10'). We'll rent out a local studio space for the exhibitions and have the camera, the founders, and some locally sourced chow. If we meet our first stretch goal, we'll upgrade to a theater where we can show a short video of our trip.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    $50 reward

    5 backers

    You get a 1' x 4' commemorative print of the panorama of your choice, plus a 4”by 5” printed detail from the panorama. Find yourself or a friend in the picture, we will optimize your detail to complement the big picture.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $100 reward

    1 backer

    You get a collage wall! A great way to display our images without taking up your entire wall is to have the whole shot displayed, with a few zoom-ins of your favorite parts of the image. Find yourself or your friends in the image and make your own 1.5' x 1' collage wall with one 17" x 5" panorama, and three 5"x5" zoomed snaps.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $150 reward

    2 backers

    You get the Carolina Zoomin’ team yearbook! We'll put together our favorite shots and zooms and have them printed into a Photobook with a Hardcover. We'll have at least one shot of each of our Crowdshoots in the book.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)