Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Technology & Website (Free) Assists With Tree, Insect, and Forest Identification

Great Resource for Landowners, Teachers, Community Forestry Groups, and Others

A new technology for creating and viewing stunningly high-resolution panoramic images is becoming a powerful research tool. It's called GigaPan. Developed as an outgrowth of NASA research on Mars, the technology has now been brought home to Earth. GigaPan uses a digital camera connected to a microprocessor to create fine grained panoramic pictures of any subject - an insect, a tree, a forest - with a resolution 1,000 times that of HDTV. According to Panning for Science - "It's like viewing nature through a huge magnifying glass."

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands in partnership with the robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University and NASA, Maine's Bureau of Parks and Lands is a beta-testing agency for a new technology that allows users to take incredibly high-resolution panoramic images. Using a robotic camera mount that sits on a tripod, the Gigapan system automatically takes dozens or even hundreds of images and "stitches" them together to form one high resolution image that allows viewers to zoom in on tiny details or move around the "virtual" environment.

Adapted from "Panning for Science," by Karen A. Frenkel. Science 330:748.

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