DARPA Innovation House project wants teams to take imaging data, see the big picture

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DARPA Innovation House project wants teams to take imaging data, see the big picture

Where are the bad guys? The military has eyes and ears everywhere these days, including drones large and tiny, satellites, radar imaging, LIDAR, infrared, thermal and even the enemy's own cellphones. The problem is how to take all that imaging and create a single picture of the environment. To that end, DARPA and George Mason University in Arlington have created the first Innovation House Project, which will put eight teams together for eight weeks in a "crucible-style" living environment to try to invent new ways of crunching the diverse sensor info. The military's research arm wants those units to think way off-piste "without fear of failure" to dream up solutions, and will have access to specialists and mentors from the military and academia. Unlike DARPA's usual challenges which have a grand prize, all teams accepted to the project will receive $30,000 in funding, but groups who go on to survive a four week cut will get an additional $20K. Proposals will be accepted up to July 31 (with no academic credentials needed), and the competition will begin in earnest on September 17. DARPA will get a license of any software created, allowing teams to hold the rights -- and hopes to continue the concept down the road, with new themes for team-based research on a tight deadline. So, if you're a data, imaging or "geospatial" whiz -- and don't mind being locked in a house and put under the brainstorming gun by DARPA -- check the PR for all the details.

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This Fall, See Yourself as a DARPA Imagery Researcher

Teams wanted for eight weeks of radical innovation in visual and geospatial data analysis

There's a lot to be said for the road that is taken-it's safe, it's well lit, and you probably know where it leads. Rarely does an opportunity present itself to leave the road entirely and venture off in search of new vistas. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeks trailblazers to explore the unknown in the areas of visual and geospatial data analysis. Researchers will participate in a short-fuse, crucible-style environment to invent new approaches to the identification of people, places, things and activities from still or moving defense and open-source imagery.

"A lot can happen when you put seriously intelligent, seriously motivated people in a room with a mission and a deadline," said Michael Geertsen, DARPA program manager and the force behind the Innovation House Study. "We are inviting a new generation of innovators to try out ideas in an environment that encourages diverse solutions and far-out thinking. If this model proves to be as successful as we believe it could be, it represents a new means for participating in Government-sponsored research projects."

DARPA's Innovation House Study, conducted with George Mason University in Arlington, Va., will provide a focused residential research environment for as many as eight teams. Interested team leaders are encouraged to submit proposals by July 31, 2012, detailing their plan to design, execute and demonstrate a radical, novel research approach to innovation in the area of extracting meaningful content from large volumes of varied visual and geospatial media. Selected teams will receive up to $50,000 in funding.

The Innovation House concept revolves around a collaborative, rather than competitive, environment. The study will run for eight weeks over two four week sessions from Sept. 17, 2012 to Nov. 9, 2012. In Phase I, teams are expected to produce an initial design and demonstrate in software the crucial capabilities that validate their approach. In Phase II, teams are expected to complete and demonstrate a functional software configuration as a proof of concept. Teams demonstrating sufficient progress in Phase I will receive Phase II funding.

DARPA will provide access to unclassified data sets and facilitate interaction with mentors from U.S. Government and academia. These interactions will provide teams with context for how their proposed technology could be applied in the realworld.

Details on the proposal process and program can be found at: http://c4i.gmu.edu/InnovationHouse/.

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