Making Indiana Jones Jealous

Mito temples are among the earliest religious structures found in the Americas.  Dating to the Late Archaic Period (3,000-1,800 BC), these buildings consist of single room enclosures with two level floors and central fire pits that served as the focus for ritual activities.  Examples of Mito temples have been identified in the Central Andes Mountains and it is widely assumed that they date to 2,500-1,800 B.C.  In 2007, researchers with the Proyecto Arquelógico Norte Chico (PANC) uncovered the remains of a possible series of Mito temples at the coastal site of Huaricanga in the Fortaleza Valley (Peru) that may be the earliest sacred altars in all of South America.

            This year, Carmela Alarcón Ledesma (PAURARKU, Centro de Investigaciones Andinas) and I have established the Huaricanga Archaeological Research Project (HARP) to explore these early ceremonial structures and to reconstruct the ritual activities that took place within them.  If these structures are indeed Mito temples their early dates may rewrite our 40-year-old understanding of the origins of this architectural tradition and its associated religious practices.  HARP is dedicated to applying innovative techniques to archaeological exploration.  Continuing in this tradition, we have teamed up with the folks at Carnegie Mellon to bring GigaPan technology to our dig at Huaricanga.

 GigaPan and Archaeology

             While perusing the GigaPan website it is easy to see the appeal for photographers.  However, what can GigaPan do for the archaeologist?  Archaeology is a lot more than finding interesting artifacts and uncovered long-buried architecture.  Since it is a destructive process, the careful documentation of the ancient past is crucial to the discipline.  Therefore, archaeologists spend most of their time sketching, measuring elevations, and most of all, taking photos.

            GigaPan offers the unique opportunity to capture panoramic views of entire architectural complexes, monumental mounds, or even excavation profiles, while preserving the smallest details.  For our project we used the GigaPan robot to capture a stunning excavation profile that details the entire series of Mito temples exposed by our dig this field season.  Please check out the amazing GigaPan here.  

 Pushing Boundaries to Infinity and Beyond…

             However, the profile GigaPan at Huaricanga was not my first at the site (for more GigaPan photos of other parts of Huaricanga, please click here).  I did, however, initially struggle with how can I incorporate GigaPan in a meaningful way without simply capturing wide views of monumental architecture as you can see in my other GigaPans.  After contacting my counterpart at Carnegie Mellon, Clara Phillips, I explained to her the project and how HARP uses a tall ladder to capture overhead shots of the excavations.  A light bulb popped in her head and Clara thought, “Why not put the GigaPan on top of the ladder?!”

            This great idea was quickly dispatched once I realized that the platform on top of the ladder is too narrow to support the tripod, but I wanted to push further, “to infinity and beyond…” as Buzz Lightyear says.  Not to be discouraged I looked around and told Carlos, our driver, to pull the truck over parallel to the canal.  Just like an experienced city driver he pulled in as closely as he could.  I mounted a large piece of plywood on top of the roof rack to serve as a base and I set up the GigaPan on top of the truck.  To my surprise, the results were pretty impressive. You can view the GigaPan by clicking here.

            It is my hope that these initial GigaPan photos will inspire other archaeologists to more fully incorporate the technology into their work.  GigaPan is not only useful for high resolution vistas of dramatic landscapes, but also as an explanatory tool to describe stratigraphy or even to document artifacts.  While we may have to wait and see how gigapixel photography will impact the discipline, I am sure that Indiana Jones would be jealous of what we can do with GigaPan today.


Matthew Piscitelli

Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Anthropology

University of Illinois at Chicago 


Arts & Bots Workshop September 10

Dear Educators, 

CREATE Lab is offering an Arts & Bots workshop on September 10th, 2012. If you are interested in participating, please see more information bellow and RSVP by Thursday September 6th. ACT 48 credit offered. We will also have some good food to munch on while building our work of art. If you want to get inspired for this workshop, listen to this press release at Pittsburgh's NPR or read more at the Post Gazette article.

Looking forward to seeing you in class!

Arts & Bots team. 

What do craft materials have to do with robotics? They are both part of the Arts & Bots system that is being used in classrooms and learning centers across the Pittsburgh region. Arts & Bots allows students, ages 5 to 18, to combine crafts, robotics, creativity and graphical computer programming to build and animate custom robotic creations.

Interested in learning more about Arts & Bots? Join members of Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab to for an introductory workshop. At the workshop, you will build your own robot while learning about the latest Arts & Bots hardware and visual programming software.  Visit for more details about Arts & Bots.

Who should attend the workshop? Educators from all subject areas are welcome. We will discuss ideas for using Arts & Bots with students of different ages and in classes ranging from Anatomy to History to Art. No robotics experience is necessary. This workshop is free of charge for all interested educators. ACT 48 credit available.




Carnegie Mellon University

Gates and Hillman Centers 8102

4800 Forbes Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15213 



September 10, 2012

5:00 pm – 9:00 pm


Clara Phillips 

Register here:

GigaPan Stitch and Upload Technical Manual

If you're an experienced user of the GigaPan Stitch or Upload software, that allows users to create zoomable panoramic images with billions of pixels, and upload them to share with others through the web, then you might be interested to know:

Today we are releasing a technical manual for the GigaPan Stitch and Upload software.

Browse it here:


This is a technical manual for the GigaPan software products Stitch, Stitch.Efx, and Upload. This document is intended to complement the introductory tutorial at, to help those who are more advanced photographers, or experienced Photoshop users, pushing the limits of what is possible, or encountering trouble. In addition to a fairly complete discussion of the software’s features, some of the operations going on behind the scenes are described. The four chapters of the document are Overview, Stitch, Upload, and History. At the end of the latter chapters you will find troubleshooting sections.


What do Stitch and Upload do?
What do Stitch and Upload not do?

Stitch Work Flow
Mega / Giga / Tera
Photographic Issues
Computer Issues
License Keys, Trial Period, Versions
Select Images – Basics
Select Images – Image Rearrange (Efx only)
Vignette Correction
Stitch Notes
Adjust Colors (Efx only)
Upload in Stitch
Save Projected Images (Efx only)
Stitch’s Command Line Options
Picture File Formats
Huge GigaPans, Performance, and Disk Space
Image Quality
Troubleshooting Stitch

Network Problems and Proxies
Upload of PSB and PSD Files
Upload of Huge PSB & PSD Files – Advanced
Managing Huge Uploads
Upload’s Command Line Options
Troubleshooting Upload


-Paul Heckbert
GigaPan Stitch Developer

Waterbot Pilot at Marshall University- Summer 2012

A summer waterbot pilot was held with two science teachers from Huntington High School and another teacher from Cabell Midland High School on July 24th, 2012. Pat McKee, Rich Sharpe and Brian McNeal already teach about water quality in their classrooms and will be using waterbot throughout the year to monitor local watersheds in several different areas. A blog has been created to record findings and share results with others (  Once established, future plans include training additional teachers in multiple areas. 

Explore our world with GigaPan Time Machine

After months of collaboration with Google, and to coincide with yesterday's 40th anniversary of the Landsat program, the Time Machine team is proud to showcase interactive timelapses of the Earth's surface. With them you can travel through time, from 1999-2011, to see the transformation of our planet.

Imagery from two different satellites were used, one from MODIS and the other from Landsat.

Seeing is believing, and with this software (+ accompanying video tours) you can witness with your own eyes the rapid urban growth of areas like the state of Nevada in the US or Duabai in the Middle East, the deforestation of the Amazon in South America, and the drying of the Aral Sea in the Middle East.

GigaPan Time Machine enables simultaneous exploration of space and time across massive datasets that could not previously be interactively explored.

Highlights from Landsat:

The rapid growth of Las Vegas, Nevada between 1999 and 2011 is visible in this Landsat timelapse tour.

Landsat timelapse tour of the Amazon rainforest shows the spread of deforestation between 1999 and 2011.

The drying of the Aral Sea between 1999 and 2011 depicted in this Landsat timelapse tour.

Main site:

Paul Dille

SW PAECT Regional Event Gives Attendees A Taste of Technology: With CREATE Lab Projects As Part of Student Showcase

On Wednesday, May 23, 2012, PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION FOR EDUCATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS & TECHNOLOGY (PAECT) SouthWestern Chapter held its first Regional Event. This “Taste of Technology” TECH and TELL was held at St. Louise de Marillac School in (Upper St. Clair) Pittsburgh, PA from 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.             

Zee Ann Poerio, Technology Teacher for K-8 at St. Louise de Marillac, was the host and event chair. Ken Klase, principal of St. Louise de Marillac School welcomed everyone and Dr. Shirley Campbell, Past President of PAECT, thanked everyone for attending.

Following a light technology themed dinner with APPetizers, BYTE sized sandwiches, computer potato CHIPS to munch, and COOKIES, the attendees were invited to a visit a student showcase which featured technology from Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab. An exhibit featuring a Robotic Ancient Coin made by the STL Student Technology Team using the ARTS & BOTS (formerly Robot Diaries) - Hummingbird Kit was displayed for human robot interaction.  Also, 8th grade student, Tom W., invited attendees to attempt challenges he programmed for the FINCH, another robotic device. A GigaPan was on display along with a large print for attendees to post comments. Jillian G. and Francesca G., eighth grade students, also volunteered at the event. They demonstrated how Turning Technologies response devices or “clickers” can be used in the classroom, and they assisted in registering teachers with EDMODO accounts to prepare for the workshop.

Dan Plesco of Direct Tech Solutions explained the benefits of using a Meraki Wireless Access Point. The access point was installed that day and attendees were able to see how quickly schools could benefit from the technology. SWPAECT members presented the attendees with  a “taste of technology” that they could put to use in the upcoming school year. Attendees learned how to power their classes with EDMODO (Zee Ann Poerio, K-8 Technology Teacher),  engage their students with the new SMART Notebook 11 (Brandie Boback, Certified SMART Trainer), and use Twitter for the Classroom and PD (Silvina Orsatti, IT Specialist.)  The session ended with a TECH & TELL where attendees shared their favorite web tools.

Thanks to the following organizations for donating these fantastic door prizes:

Smart SolutionTechnologies, L.P.         Smart Board Interactive Whiteboard SB680 Smart Board or  Smart Response Training

Meraki                                                    Meraki Wireless Access Point

SWPAECT                                         Barnes & Noble Gift Card and book

Turning Technologies                        Turning Technologies Response System Trial

Special thanks to Dom Salvucci who joined us via SKYPE to share his experiences with Edmodo, Jana Baxter of SW PAECT, St. Louise de Marillac School administration and staff,  and Theresa Enyeart, Toni Luvara, and Jean Rowles for their help on the day of the event. This event was FREE for PAECT Members and $5.00 for Non–Members. Attendees received PA ACT 48 credit and left with “cookies” (to eat) and great ideas to share with their colleagues and use immediately in their classrooms.

Photos from this event can be viewed here:
(Created with ANIMOTO another great web tool!)

Submitted by Zee Ann Poerio, SW PAECT Member (Event Planning Committee) Teacher, St. Louise de Marillac Catholic School

Harless CREATE Satellite Holds Arts and Bots Training- Summer 2012

Teachers from Ona Elementary, Cornerstone Academy, Beverly Elementary, Kellogg Elementary and Barboursville Middle took part in a 2-day training on arts and bots on July 10th and 11th on Marshall University's campus.  The 8 teachers agreed to pilot the project and integrate it into existing classroom curriculum and will be using it in a variety of subjects including math, physics, chemistry, and reading.  Allen Perry chemistry and physics teacher from South Point High School in South Point, Ohio was on hand to help train the teachers on equipment use while the Harless CREATE Satellite team assisted with curriculum. The project expanded to include additional schools and teachers this summer and they will be involved in a yearlong project.  We look forward to seeing what the teachers and students come up with this year! 


Terrenos Kelluwen en la ruralidad rural

Kelluwen is a project aimed to develop didactic experiences involving social web tools in schools under poverty in southern Chile. We are making pilots, twice a year, involving several schools from different cities in southern Chile. Some of these classrooms are running special instructional designs using GigaPan Edu equipment and site.

Profesora Johanna Valenzuela  y sus estudiantes de Séptimo Básico
del Colegio Pumanque en el límite entre Puerto Montt y Alerce. Profesor Claudio Villarroel y sus estudiantes de Octavo Básico de
la Escuela Particular Horizonte (en las faldas del volcán Calbuco,
entre Alerce y Colonia Río Sur).

Estudiantes de Octavo Básico que se preparan para una foto de
muestra cuando comienzan su experiencia de Fotografiando la Revolución
Industrial - Escuela Particular Horizonte.

Open House tomorrow evening at the Electric Garage

> What: Informal open house
> When: Thursday, July 19, 6-7 PM
> Where: The Electric Garage, 4621 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
> Who: Open to the public
> Why: To see the new Ford plug-in hybrid vehicles

This week we are privileged to be hosting Chris Lear, Senior Development Engineer in Ford's Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle group, along with a team of engineers and five plug-in hybrid vehicles (four Ford C-Max Energi PHEVs and one Fusion Energi PHEV, see photo). The team has driven from Michigan for evaluation testing, taking advantage of Pittsburgh's hilly terrain, and the availability of level 2 charging at the Electric Garage. If you'd like to talk to the Ford engineers and see the latest plug-in hybrid vehicles from Ford, please attend an informal gathering Thursday evening 6-7PM at the Electric Garage.

Hope to see you then!


H. Ben Brown
Project Scientist
Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University

Arts & Bots in the News

Yesterday, Carnegie Mellon University made a press release about Arts & Bots describing the successes of our community partners and announcing the public availability of the Hummingbird Kit through BirdBrain technologies.  This is a big step towards increasing the impact of Arts & Bots and promoting the use of robotics as tools for creative expression and exploration. We look forward to continuing to work with our wonderful partners and meeting even more educators interested in particpating in our ongoing research activities.

Since the release, Arts & Bots has been discussed by a number of news organizations, magazines and prominent blogs. We've included information on a few articles below.

Thanks to all of the educators and community partners who made this project so successful!



On Fast Company: 

Hummingbird: An Educational Robotics Kit Designed To Get Girls Into Engineering

“Most educational robotics kits focus on building robots, but Hummingbird treats robotics as one element combined with craft materials and text to communicate thoughts, feelings, or ideas. […] Teachers whose students have experimented with the kit say it fosters interest in technology among students ages 11 and up.”


Kit turns kiddie art into robots

“Hummingbird differs from robotic kits available at toy stores where the focus is on building a specific robot; rather it comes with a control board along with lights, sensors, and motors that you use to roboticize your art project. This incorporation step is thought to make robotics more meaningful and useful to the user.”

 On IEEE Spectrum:

Every Kid Needs One of These DIY Robotics Kits

“Now, although this is called a "kit," it's not like there's instructions that tell you what to build. It's the best kind of robot kit: the kind where you use your imagination and some creativity to build a robot of your very own. You might need some additional structural components (like cardboard), but beyond that, all it takes is a good idea to make whatever you want, which (in essence) iswhat's so great about robots in general. ”

On DesignNews:

Kit Turns Arts & Crafts Into Robots

"An educational robotics kit developed at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute is fostering an interest in technology that goes a step beyond simply putting supplied parts together."

On NetworkWorld:

Arts & crafts & robots

“The Hummingbird offering from BirdBrain Technologies costs $200 and uses a drag-and-drop user interface that requires no programming experience on the part of the user. The kit (which includes components such as a controller, power supply, cables and senors) can convert artwork made from paper and cardboard into creations that move or display lights based on sensors. More elaborate creations have included a working replica of Star Wars' R2D2.”

Original CMU Press Release:

Roboticize Your World: Educational Kit Can Turn Artwork and Crafts Into Robots

"The results often amount to kinetic sculptures that use sensors to detect changes in their environment and respond with movement and/or light displays. A cardboard dragon that turns its head and tries to bite anyone who comes close is one example. Students in West Virginia built a working replica of Star Wars' R2D2."