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Pentagon to adopt NFL's instant replay technology

Used by the NFL, the Full-Motion Video Asset Management Engine, would allow the military to monitor the battlefront just as referees and commentators can monitor the gridiron.

By Charles Q. ChoiTechNewsDaily Contributor / June 2, 2010



The same video technology the NFL uses for instant replay during football games could soon help monitor battlefields in Afghanistan.

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In the past few years, the amount of intelligence and surveillance video coming in from robots and other sources has increased sharply, overwhelming analysts who simply can't keep up.

For instance, U.S. Air Force drones collected roughly 1,800 hours of video a month in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, nearly three times as much video than in 2007, noted Howard Lance, chairman, president and CEO of Melbourne-Fla.-based Harris Corporation, which provides the NFL and Major League Baseball instant-replay technology.

This is only expected to grow as the number of robots increases on the battlefield, as do their capabilities — for example, the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can record in 10 directions simultaneously.

Now Harris is helping the Pentagon with this information overload by helping devise a customized video analysis system that might cut the time needed to analyze trillions of bytes of video from weeks to minutes. After all, U.S. broadcasters handle 70,000 hours daily of video, Lance noted.

"This system began getting deployed at a number of locations last year," said John Delay, director of strategy for Harris's government solutions business unit. "It can work with data relayed from sensors, from a UAV platform, or even from a guy with a cell phone."

Video tagging

The key behind this system, dubbed the Full-Motion Video Asset Management Engine, or FAME, is the use of digital "metadata" tags appended to each frame of video that encode details such as time, date and location in space. Knowing when and where each picture was taken on the battlefield is fundamental to depicting a scene on, say, a Google Earth map, much as knowing where each camera is in a football stadium is key during instant replay to finding the right angle to observe a play.