Redmond (WA) - Microsoft makes cameras? Yes, but this is not your average consumer model. Topping out at a whopping 196 megapixels and a native resolution of 17,310 x 11,310 pixels, UltraCamXp can take stereo images at 1 inch GSD with up to 2.5 Gbps data throughput. The company touts the UltraCamXp as the largest format camera available today for aerial photography and will use it soon to improve the quality of terrain imagery used by its Live Maps mapping service.
Popular online mapping services like Google Maps or Microsoft's Live Maps rely on so-called orto-photography to provide users with terrain imagery. Such images are taken with expensive, ultra-high resolution cameras mounted to aircraft. Aerial photographs are then analyzed for rich terrain data beyond pure pixels, stitched together and uploaded to data centers. From there, a mapping service that runs inside your browser, like Live Maps, simply fetches the pixel data required by your current screen resolution and zoom level.