From Wired, on the inspiration behind Hyperlapse and how it reached Instagram:
Inspired by a demo in which he saw gyroscopes attached to cameras to de-blur their images, Karpenko had an aha moment: Smartphones didn’t have nearly enough power to replicate video-editing software, but they did have built-in gyroscopes. On a smartphone, instead of using power-hungry algorithms to model the camera’s movement, he could measure it directly. And he could funnel those measurements through a simpler algorithm that could map one frame to the next, giving the illusion that the camera was being held steady. He mocked up a simple demo, and filmed a dot on his wall, while making his hand shake. “The images in the test matched up almost exactly, and that’s when I knew this was doable,” Karpenko says.
Eventually the duo uploaded video of the app in action to Instagram’s internal message board, where it received the ultimate blessing: a single comment from Instagram co-founder and CEO, Kevin Systrom. It simply declared, “This is cool.” This, in turn, egged them on to present their project to the wider group, at the company’s first “pitch-a-thon” for new creative tools, held last January. (Many of Instagram’s new features are the result of that meeting, including the sliders that allow you to dial in the strength of each filter.)
The technology certainly seems impressive. I'm excited to try the app out and might even upload one of my attempts, if it's worth sharing.