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DARPA director shares vision of a new generation of technology and commercial applications at SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing

30 April 2013

Ken Israel, Arati Prabhakar, David Whelan, Philip Stahl
Be part of creating the new generation of technology for national security, DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar (second from left, above) urged the symposium plenary audience in Baltimore Monday. With Prabhakar are, from left, Symposium Chair Ken Israel, Cochair David Whelan, and SPIE President-Elect Philip Stahl.

BALTIMORE, Maryland, USA -- "If we do our job, and you work with us, all of us get to be part of creating a whole new generation of technology for national security," DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar told a capacity audience Monday afternoon on opening day of SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing in Baltimore.

Prabhakar's symposium plenary talk wrapped up the first day of the annual event, which runs through Friday at the Baltimore Convention Center. Around 5,500 registered attendees are expected for technical conferences, educational short courses, and a three-day free exhibition and job fair that begins on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The nearly 500 exhibiting companies include the industry's leading suppliers of products for defense and commercial applications such as robotic systems, IR detectors, chemical sensors, high-speed imaging systems, lasers, night vision devices, advanced display technologies, explosives detection, and thermal cameras. The exhibition will also include three featured technology demonstrations:

  • A tethered VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft system powered by laser power over fiber, presented by LaserMotive
  • The Virtusphere simulation platform for safe training for dangerous environments faced by military, law-enforcement, fire-fighting, and counterterrorism personnel
  • MARS (Mobile Aerospace Reconnaissance System) mounts to telescopically track and image aircraft, rockets, orbiting spacecraft, hypersonic test vehicles.


Prabhakar illustrated what she termed the "virtuous cycle (of) defense needs and commercial opportunity" with numerous examples. Many featured the important role photonics play in current applications such as night vision, smart prostheses, and cyber security, and underscored reports heard in the conference rooms throughout the day.

Among talks were:

  • Sarah Crites from the University of Hawaii team reported on development of  a tiny satellite with a sensor just over 16 inches long set to launch in Hawaii this fall. Called the SUCHI, for Space Ultra Compact Hyperspectral Imager, the compact spectrometer is designed to characterize the geology of major rock-forming minerals on the Earth from space. Principal investigator is Robert Wright, a professor in the Hawaii Institute for Geophysics and Planetology.
  • Daniel Malamud of New York University presented on a microfluidic card for field analysis of blood or other fluids. The card was developed in collaboration with Rheonix Inc., and is used to detect proteins and nucleic acids, such as antibodies to HIV and HIV RNA.
  • Charles Steckfus, a professor of diagnostic sciences at the School of Dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, described how the proteome in saliva is used to provide insights into  breast cancer progression.
  • Michael Kolodny, an independent senior technology advisor to the Army Research Lab, spoke on a theme of several of the week's sessions and panels: Big Data. He offered an alternative paradigm. Rather than focusing on the enormous volume of data, he suggested focusing on a synthesis of relevant data, using only enough for decision making, assessing the value of sources based on their contributions to the analysis, and using data for understanding, not for reconstructions of reality.

Registration for conferences and educational short courses as well as free registration for the exhibition are available on site. News and photos from the event are being updated throughout the week, at www.spie.org/DSSnews.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 225,000 constituents from approximately 150 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.

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Media contact:
Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager, SPIE
+1 360 685 5478
amy@spie.org
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