Explorable Microscopy: Bringing Gigapixel Imagery to the Micro Scale

Citizen Science
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The Explorable Microscopy project is part of the Gigapan project of the Carnegie Melon University CREATE Lab. We are creating open source and open hardware imaging devices to capture explorable gigapixel images of small things.

We have created multiple devices using arduinos and stepper motors to capture hundreds and thousands of focus stacked mosaiced images (the largest to date required 50,000 individual 18 megapixel images).

We’ve also created an open hardware design for an adapter kit which can convert a manual microscope to full computer control for a fraction of the cost of existing automated microscopes.

Members of the project are working with the Entomology department of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, with the State of Pennsylvania’s Apiarist to develop a time lapse gigapan view of a living bee hive to make it possible to possibly see what causes Colony Collapse, and with various groups on using explorable imagery to enable citizen scientists to do their own ‘Aquatic Macro Invertebrate Bio Assessments’ of waterways, including in the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Photo of Rich Gibson

Rich Gibson


Rich Gibson works on the Gigapan and Explorable Microscopy Projects for
Carnegie Melon University and NASA’s Intelligent Robotics Group, and
independently creating high resolution portraits of people and developing
new ways to archive physical spaces with explorable images.

He is a bricoleur hacker, artist, programmer, author, and builder.

He helped create the Neogeography movement, coauthoring Mapping Hacks
and Google Maps Hacks. The process of working with and exploring how we interact
and explore space lead him to the more generalized world of providing both context,
and detail with explorable images.

For the past four years he has been obsessed with creating new ways to capture and use
high resolution images of everything, including the Chaos Communications Camp in 2007,
Volcanos in Arizona for NASA, the incredibly tidy offices of Monochrom in Vienna,
details of cell metosis in mouse testis with sub-micron resolution, and
portraits of people with the details of landscapes.

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Schuyler Erle


Schuyler Erle has been a Free Software developer and evangelist for over a dozen years. He was a co-author of ‘Mapping Hacks’ and ‘Google Maps Hacks’. Schuyler was also a co-founder of the OpenLayers and TileCache projects, and is a charter member of the OSGeo Foundation. Schuyler currently resides in San Francisco, where he designs and builds new and exotic geospatial technology at SimpleGeo.

Photo of Anne Wright

Anne Wright


Anne Wright is Co-principal Investigator and Director of Operations for the BodyTrack project in the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. She received B.S. and M.Eng. degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996. After leaving MIT, she co-founded Newton Research Labs, a successful robotics and computer vision company, then joined the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames Research Center where she served as Lead Systems Engineer for Prototype Mars Rovers. While at Ames, Anne became interested in how to harness sensing and data visualization technologies and techniques originally developed for the rovers to help people “debug” diffuse environmentally related conditions such as allergies, food sensitivities, asthma and migraine triggers, etc. She moved to Pittsburgh in 2009 and spent a year studying biochemistry at CMU. She co-founded the BodyTrack Project in 2010 with the support of the Heinz Endowments of Pittsburgh. Through the BodyTrack Project she pursues a multi-faceted approach to improving health empowerment for people affected by such diffuse conditions, including open-source technology development, aggregation and visualization of data from existing devices and data sources, collaborative development of common data interchange formats and APIs, development of custom devices, and cultural engineering. She also seeks to identify and catalyze synergistic efforts in this space such as the Quantified Self, Quant Friendly Doctor, Locker Project, and open mHealth movements.

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Picture of Rich Gibson
Rich Gibson
07/19/2011 4:46pm PDT

Hi All,

a) please come see our cool stuff, and b) if you have questions please ask them here or rich.gibson@gmail.com