Monday September 26, 2005

Live or Memorex?

UD students are working with the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to someday give reconnaissance operators and police a better look at terror suspects.

University of Dayton students are working with the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to someday give reconnaissance operators and police a better look at terror suspects.

"You can't go a day without seeing a surveillance video on the news or somewhere else," said Frank Scarpino, a UD engineering and computer engineering professor supervising the students at the base. "We are working on providing those images and video more clearly while reducing the data traffic across communication channels."

Changing bandwidth boundaries could reduce the costs of delivering video services. Cell phone video, surveillance video information, some forms of cable TV, video and still cameras, Internet streaming video and anything using a continuous imaging stream could be included.

Many of the nation's cable companies will be unable to handle HDTV unless cheaper ways of carrying a large amount of data through small distribution channels are found, according to Scarpino.

The technology will be compatible with video players and surveillance cameras currently in use so there will be no additional cost for equipment upgrades.

Airports, casinos and others who store large amounts of video will be able to reduce their storage costs.

For the military, spy planes could be able to transmit more detailed and higher resolution pictures that use less satellite bandwidth.

"There is a limit to the number of unmanned surveillance vehicles that can fly and transmit pictures at the same time," Scarpino said. "A result of our work will be getting more of those vehicles in flight taking pictures."

Current and former students on the project agree that it's more fun building for real systems than just being in a generic research lab.

"It is exciting to see CNN talk about the search for terrorists and think, 'Hey, I'm working on that,'" said Jeff Shafer, a former UD graduate student now in Rice University's doctoral program. "Plus, our work will give us something to offer to future employers in the way of project management skills and practical experience."

Joe Fieler parlayed his experience into a position with L3 Communications, a provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

"I couldn't get a job interview as an undergrad," Fieler said. "But, after working with this group, companies started coming to me."

Scarpino emphasized the importance of UD's relationship with Wright-Patterson and said its impact on the community and state should not be taken for granted. Because of the relationship, UD students and graduates can continue to work on projects and begin their careers without leaving Ohio.

Students from Case Western Reserve University, Wright State University, Miami University, the University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University and Oakland University in Michigan are collaborators on the $2 million program. Part of the group working with Scarpino received an Air Force Research Laboratory award for notable and distinguished scientific and technical achievement.

For more information, contact Frank Scarpino at (937) 229-3611 or Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.