Army Selects ‘VideoNEXT’ to Produce Computer Run Surveillance System

The technology the Army holds the patent on enables computers to automatically “sense what’s going on in an environment that is to be protected."
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The U.S. Army has selected a company that creates “physical security management solutions” to receive “a partially exclusive patent license” to produce a computer operated security system that detects and tracks intruders.

by J.J. Smith

On May 4, 2011, the Department of Defense (DoD) posted a Federal Register notice announcing its “intent to grant” the license to VideoNEXT Network Solutions, Inc. of Chantilly, Va.

The technology the Army holds the patent on enables computers to automatically “sense what’s going on in an environment that is to be protected,” said Christopher Gettings, VideoNEXT’s CEO. “A computer rather than a person watches the images (from surveillance cameras), and detects when certain activities, or patterns occur, and then raises an alarm based on that,” he said.

The advantage to having a computer keep watch on the images collected by surveillance cameras is computers do not tire, and they can watch many more cameras than security staff might be able to watch at any one moment in time, Gettings said. The Army’s patented system—called a “system and method of detecting, recognizing and tracking moving targets”—is a “force multiplier that reduces dependence on live operators to watch individual displays,” he said.

“Everyone has seen the ‘Hollywood Squares’ type of command center where there are a lot of monitors on a wall with images from different cameras,” Gettings said. “The operators are trying very hard to pay attention to what’s going on, but it becomes very difficult,” he added. “There have been studies that have determined that even a highly motivated operator…their attention span is limited. They can only go for a relatively short period of time paying close attention, 10 or 15 minutes, before it starts to blur together, and they aren’t able to be sharp,” he said.

Using this technology, the client doesn’t completely do away with human operators, but the technology will draw an operator’s attention to the cameras where activity is occurring, Gettings said. What that technology does is enable a wider area to be watched while reducing the labor needed to keep watch on an area. “With the DoD’s emphasis on reducing costs and getting the labor hours spent to secure facilities reduced, this technology helps them with that,” he said.

In addition to military installations, the clients who might be interested in acquiring this system need to secure their facilities and make better use of their manpower than just watching the same endless streams of video from their cameras, Gettings said. That would include businesses that provide security systems and security services to private enterprise; or large enterprises that are looking to secure their facilities; and small systems integrators who are working on specific vertical markets, he said. That covers “the broad range of anyone who has a physical security need,” he said.

However, while the Army has selected VideoNEXT to control the patent license, there is a chance the company will not get the license, according to the DoD. The Federal Register notice also says, “anyone wishing to object to the grant of this license must file written objections, along with supporting evidence (if any), not later then 15 days from the date of this notice.”

Written objections need to be sent to Michael Rausa, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Technology Applications, Attn: RDRL-DB/Bldg. 434, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. 21005-5425