In what could be a boon to engineers, intelligence analysts and artists, computer scientists in an American University have developed a software can process "gigapixel" images or photographs that contain billions of pixels in seconds to help them get a preview of what the image contains.

Pixels are dot-like picture elements in a photograph. Till now, the more pixels in a photograph would mean it would take hours to process the image. Satellite photos or images of arteries taken by doctors have hundreds to millions of pixels.

According to the scientists, the software samples a fraction of the pixels in a huge image, analyses it and gives an idea of how the whole image looks like.

"You can go anywhere you want in the image," Valerio Pascucci, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Utah and its Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) said. "You can zoom in, go left, right. From your perspective, it is as if the full 'solved' image has been computed."

The software is named -Visualization Streams for Ultimate Scalability, or ViSUS. The scientists at the University of Utah have published a study on the development of Visus in the Association of computing Machinery. The study will go online on October 30. Interestingly, the software can run on large external server and large computers to analyze the images as well as on an iPhone.