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Using sys1 as a prefilter

Subject: PRess: Improving human processing of imagery

Dealing with the Data Deluge isn’t all focused on machine pre-processing,

apparently. This DARPA project has been in the works for at least 5 years,

but I just found out about it in a short mention in an award-winner profile

in the June issue of “Avionics” magazine….


Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts (NIA)



The vision for DARPA’s Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts (NIA)

program is to revolutionize how analysts handle intelligence imagery,

increasing throughput of imagery to an analyst and overall accuracy of


Current computer-based target detection capabilities cannot process large

volumes of imagery with the speed, flexibility, and precision of the human

visual system. Investigations of visual neuroscience mechanisms indicate

that human brains are capable of responding visually much more quickly than

they respond physically. The vision for DARPA’s Neurotechnology for

Intelligence Analysts (NIA) program is to revolutionize how analysts handle

intelligence imagery, increasing throughput of imagery to an analyst and

overall accuracy of assessments.

NIA seeks to identify robust brain signals that can be recorded in an

operational environment and process these in real-time to select images that

merit further review. The program aims to apply these triage methods to

static, broad area, and video imagery. Successful development of a

neurobiologically based image triage system will increase speed and accuracy

of image analysis where the number of acquired images is expected to rise

significantly. Results of the NIA program will enable image analysts to

train more effectively and process imagery with greater speed and precision.


Seeing is Retrieving

By Beverly T. Schaeffer . Oct 17th, 2011



The eyes may have it, but the brain takes it to another level in a new

technology being developed by researchers for the U.S. Defense Department.

Imagery is viewed by the human eye, and the breakthrough advance uses

neurotechnology to narrow that data into smaller, more concentrated images

for further interpretation.

In his article, “Brainwaves Boost Intelligence,” in this issue of SIGNAL



articleid=2742&zoneid=31), George I. Seffers looks at the Neurotechnology

for Intelligence Analysts (NIA) program. The NIA records brain signals in an

operational environment, and processes those signals in real time to select

images for further review.

In the next several months, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

(DARPA) expects to complete the third and final phase of research and

development on the program before turning it over to the National

Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) for potential fielding.

The competition included three prototype systems from Teledyne Technologies

Incorporated, Honeywell International, and a team involving Columbia

University and Neuromatters LLC. These prototypes were installed in an

NGA-owned geospatial analysis testbed, and experiments were conducted with

image analysts.

For comparison, participants analyzed images using the traditional method as

well. Todd Hughes, DARPA’s NIA program manager, likens the traditional

process of broad-area search to a dog owner searching for pet photographs:

Imagine you have a stack of photos on your hard drive, and you’re looking

for photos of your dog. You flip through all those photos and pull out the

ones of the dog and put those in a separate file.

Defense analysts, however, are more likely to be searching for airplanes,

tanks or ammunition stockpiles. The human brain continually generates

various kinds of electrical signals or brainwaves. The brain can transmit

more than one kind of wave simultaneously, but one kind usually will


Intel agencies can speed up the process by breaking down a larger image into

smaller, more manageable pieces known as chips. When an image with target

data flashes before the eyes, the viewer’s brain will send out a signal

within 300 milliseconds-before the analyst even consciously realizes the

image contains something interesting. Sensors detect that brainwave

response, known as P300, in an electroencephalography cap, traditionally

used in hospitals for monitoring brainwaves.

Hughes explains part of the retrieval process:

Every time one of those chips appears containing something an analyst is

looking for, that P300 goes off, and that image is put into a smaller

folder. We’re anticipating that this could at least double the rates at

which an image analyst can research an area of terrain.

What additional applications could benefit from the NIA program? Are other

organizations making inroads with similar projects? Share your input here.



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