Images of flattened buildings, muddy tent camps and desperate, homeless people have dominated the world’s view of Haiti since an earthquake shook Port-au-Prince in January 2010. But the September issue of Carnegie Mellon University’s online GigaPan Magazine features interactive panoramas of the central Artibonite Valley, its villages and its hospital that provide an alternative view of Haitian life.
Though just as impoverished as the rest of Haiti, the rural Artibonite Valley was not directly affected by the earthquake. Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, founded there in 1956 by the late Dr. Larimer “Larry” Mellon, a Pittsburgh native, and his wife Gwen Grant Mellon, remained intact and the only fully functioning hospital in the region.
The magazine, a publication of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, includes images of the valley’s landscapes, a market in the town of Deschapelles and the hospital. The large, high-resolution images were created using GigaPan technology developed by the CREATE Lab and NASA, which enables viewers to interactively explore the images via computer.
The issue was guest-edited by the Pittsburgh-based Friends of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, which supports the hospital’s mission. The magazine includes images created by members of the Friends organization and by Clear Story Creative, a Pittsburgh-based firm that specializes in technical production and lighting design.
GigaPan Magazine explores the way that gigapixel imagery can deliver information, convey messages, tell stories, express emotions and otherwise carry meaning. GigaPan technology produces these images by using a robotic camera mount to take multiple digital images of a scene and then using software to stitch the digital images into a single panorama. The GigaPan website provides a means to store and share these large data files.
The Robotics Institute is part of Carnegie Mellon’s renowned School of Computer Science. Follow the school on Twitter @SCSatCMU.