Defense + Security Symposium heats up in Orlando

ORLANDO, FL—A healthy attendance of 5,700 bolstered a 16% increase in the number of exhibitors over last year at SPIE’s Defense + Security Symposium (DSS) 2008 at the Orlando World Center Marriott Convention Center in Orlando, FL, March 18–20, 2008.

Apr 1st, 2008

ORLANDO, FL—A healthy attendance of 5,700 bolstered a 16% increase in the number of exhibitors over last year at SPIE’s Defense + Security Symposium (DSS) 2008 at the Orlando World Center Marriott Convention Center in Orlando, FL, March 18–20, 2008. The increase in attendees and exhibitors may not just be the warm weather—a run on DSS may be a trend carrying over from the end of Optics East, say organizers.

After the closing of Optics East in September 2007, SPIE aggregated some of the defense and sensing content from that show to Defense + Security, which was known as AeroSense in previous years. Public relations manager of SPIE, Amy Nelson, said, “There seemed to be a really good match for the Optics East defense and sensing content with DSS, so it feels like a good mix for the community in the future.” The organizers have announced a name change for the 2009 meeting, “SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing,” to reflect the migration of sensors content.

One interesting theme threaded through the show was the emphasis on finding innovative uses of existing technology for use in defense and security applications. In his symposium-wide plenary presentation, the Honorable Jay Cohen, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told attendees how his Integrated Product Team is focused on delivering technology to the department and its customers. He gave an impressive overview of the coordination that is enabling exchange of research between DHS and federal partners including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and many others. A full 50% of DHS budget is dedicated to delivering products, 20% to basic research. One tangible result is that low-level magnetic resonance imaging may soon be seen in airport security screening to detect and catalog liquids in carry-on baggage, says Cohen. Soon we may not have to remove our laptops from their cases—“And that, ladies and gentlemen, is progress,” quipped Cohen.

The technology area of visual analytics (the science of analytical reasoning via visual displays) generated additional heat at the conference, spanning exploratory data analysis from posture classification to live battlefield change detection. A new “Hot Topic” session, “Visual Analytics for Homeland Defense and Security,” presented by William Tolone and William Ribarsky of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, covered how visual displays help analysts reach insights and a more efficient understanding of vast amounts of data.

In papers and in exhibits, companies focused on rolling out new products for defense and security applications. In a paper session, Paul Leisher, device engineer at nLight (Vancouver, WA), focused on the expansion of its Pearl direct-diode laser infrared countermeasure systems to include the wavelength region of 1800 to 2100 nm, in addition to previous 639, 808, 88x, and 9xx nm wavelengths. “Often solid-state lasers, of particular importance in the defense community, need pump sources in the long wavelength range of 1400–2100 nm, so sources should offer state-of-the-art power and efficiency over this broad range of wavelengths,” said Kirk Price, device engineer at nLight.

Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology continues to be a major focus at DSS for its use in imaging and remote sensing. Three divisions of Axsys—Axsys Motion Control Products, Axsys Technologies Imaging Systems, and Axsys Technologies IR Systems—exhibited together, each collaborating on parts of systems for LIDAR and other motion-controlled imaging applications, including incidentally, a system for the high-performance motion-picture industry. The Imaging Systems group touted a new LIDAR fast-steering mirror with ± 10° of scanning motion in azimuth and elevation simultaneously.

—Valerie Coffey

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