A group of researchers at Sony and the University of Alabama in Huntsville have come up with a wide-angle camera that can image a 10-kilometer-square area from an altitude of 7.5 kilometers with a resolution better than 50 centimeters per pixel.
The trick is to build an array of light sensitive chips - each one recording small parts of a larger image - and place them at the focal plane of a large multiple-lens system. The camera would have gigapixel resolution, and able to record images at a rate of 4 frames per second.
The team suggests that such a camera mounted on an aircraft could provide images of a large city by itself. This would even allow individual vehicles to be monitored without any danger of losing them as they move from one ground level CCTV system to another.