A 250-Megapixel Camera Designed to Spot Early Signs of Skin Cancer

By Andrew Liszewski on at

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, similar to 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.

A 250 Megapixel Camera Designed To Spot Early Signs of Skin Cancer

The camera can photograph an entire body up to six-and-a-half-feet (1.9m) tall, and 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]