Lockheed, broadcast giant Harris for analytics

Monday, June 1, 2009

HERNDON, Va. and DENVER--Lockheed Martin and Harris Corporation have signed a collaboration agreement to develop next-generation technologies for managing and analyzing full-motion video intelligence. The two companies will use their collective expertise and resources to create new video analysis solutions for defense, intelligence and commercial customers.

“About five years ago,” said Lucius Stone, director, government solutions group for Harris, “we launched an initiative to use a lot of the same things that the major networks use to collect and manage and display and disseminate all kinds of content and apply that to intelligence gathering.”

The result for the $5.4 billion and 16,000 employees company was Full-Motion Video Asset Management Engine, or FAME, which integrates video, chat, and audio directly into the video stream. “If you look at news or sports, it’s a very similar shelf life and immediacy as intel,” Stone noted.

However, without analytics, FAME is still just a great way of managing video and incorporating things like audio feeds, IM chats and the like. Lockheed Martin recently debuted Audacity, a video analytics engine that tags, sorts and catalogues digital footage. Audacity includes integrated intelligence tools such as video mosaic creation, facial recognition, object tracking and smart auto-alerts based around geospatial areas of interest.

“We wanted to integrate with Audacity because that had the specific tools, and they have a really neat reporting system,” Stone said.

Roger Mann, who directs Lockheed Martin’s Flex Works program, which looks at quickly taking new technology and making it government ready, said Harris first came onto Lockheed’s radar during an event called the Empire Challenge, where government contractors show off their most advanced surveillance technologies. “Our experts were really impressed by their ability to bring metadata within the video streams,” said Mann, “and be able to preserve all the content of the actual video stream frame by frame.”

Both Mann and Stone noted that the government has previously been handling video just like still images, cutting footage into two-minute bits and storing it that way. The result was that “it’s almost impossible to find anything,” Stone said. “Now we’ve got them thinking about how to handle video as video, a complete mind-shift, and we couldn’t have done that on our own because we don’t understand the government world the way Lockheed does, and they don’t understand the broadcast world the way we do.”

Lockheed said it would be keeping the results of this ongoing technology partnership largely for its own use, but Stone said Harris will be looking at “high-end” commercial applications for the partnership’s results.