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March 19: Carnegie Mellon Web Site Hosts High-Tech Easter Egg Hunt


Byron Spice                           

Anne Watzman

Carnegie Mellon Web Site Hosts
High-Tech Easter Egg Hunt

Find Goodies Hidden in Panoramic Images at

PITTSBURGH—The Easter bunny made an early visit to Carnegie Mellon University's GigaPan Web site,, leaving behind eggs and other goodies hidden in a series of panoramic images that can be explored by young and old alike via the Internet.

The GigaPan site is a place where people can upload and interactively explore panoramic images, including the GigaPan panoramic image format developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and NASA's Ames Research Center. Over the past week, some users have been sharing panoramic images in which they have hidden Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies and other holiday treats.

BunnyRandy Sargent, senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon's campus in Moffett Field, Calif., got the idea to invite about 70 beta users of the GigaPan camera system around the world to create special Easter egg hunt panoramas.

"They go out in their yards, or some other interesting place, hide some eggs and then create a GigaPan image," said Sargent, who led the development of GigaPan with Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics. "It's straightforward, but we think it will be a lot of fun."

Contributions have come from across the United States and from England. The Easter egg images can be accessed via a special link on the GigaPan home page, by searching the site for "easteregg," or by going directly to  

GigaPans are large panoramic images, each comprised of billions of pixels that computer users can explore by zooming in on details within the images. A special camera mount, sold by Charmed Labs of Austin, Texas (, enables any digital camera to take hundreds of overlapping photos of a landscape, building or room. Special software then stitches these images into one seamless image with incredibly high resolution.

"When we launched the GigaPan site last year, we hoped that it would foster a community of GigaPan users worldwide," Nourbakhsh said. "An event such as this Easter egg hunt represents one way that we can create this community. And it's been a blast."

No prizes are involved with this hunt, but there won't be any sore tummies from eating these virtual treats.

Note to editors: You can embed an Easter egg or other GigaPan panorama onto your Web site by following these directions:  Illah Nourbakhsh grants permission for anyone to embed his Easter egg panorama:  Also, check the descriptions accompanying each panorama to see if the creator has granted permission for news media use.


(Photo: Can you find the chocolate bunny?)