To help speed up screenings for spotting melanoma, the most deadliest type of skin cancer, dermatologists already use digital cameras with wide-angle lenses to capture images of a patient’s body. But to ensure there’s enough resolution to zoom in close and visually examine a specific area researchers at Duke University have developed a 250-megapixel camera that provides extremely detailed views of a patient’s skin.
The usual approach to creating a massive gigapixel image is to use a single camera to take multiple shots of a subject, and then digitally stitch all of the images together into one massive photo. But that approach is time consuming, and would require a patient to stand still for longer than most people are willing or able to.
So the researchers at Duke University took a different approach. A single lens is pointed at a patient, and the image it produces is simultaneously photographed by 34 digital microcameras — sort of like photographing the night sky by pointing your camera at the eyepiece of a telescope. The microcameras are all specifically arranged to help compensate for visual imperfections produced by the large lens, while software automatically produces a single massive 250-megapixel image of a patient.
The camera can photograph an entire body up to 1.8m tall. Before a dermatologist even has a chance to examine the image, a computer can perform a preliminary check for signs of skin cancer and automatically flag areas of concern. And while the system isn’t a replacement for a dermatoscope, an imaging tool already used by dermatologists for closer examinations, it is faster and the automated features can help speed up cancer screenings and the number of patients that can be processed. [Frontiers in Optics via PetaPixel]