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Company fixing the UAV data problem

Feb. 27, 2013 - 04:53PM   |  
By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS   |   Comments

SAN FRANCISCO ó How do you take massive amounts of video and images taken from UAVs and send it across a slow network connection? Get rid of the redundant information.

Thatís the solution that one company, Samplify, is proposing.

Samplify works with both an imaging company and a natural resources company to help streamline their data streams, and while the company is not currently under contract in the world of UAV data streaming, itís working to get its foot in the door.

The company, which is six years old and has raised $22.5 million in investments thus far, uses a system that looks for redundancy in data sets to decrease transfer time by up to 75 percent for image applications. In a UAV market where the vehicles themselves lack the power to carry heavy processing units or the batteries to supply them, and the stream of information is so robust it makes transferring that data to a central base difficult, speeding the transfer rate could have tremendous benefits for the rapid application of the intelligence UAVs gather.

Think of a family photo that might hang in your house. If itís taken outside, it might have a nice blue sky eating up a large quantity of the image. In most cases, large swathes of that sky are the same blue tone. If you send the image unaltered, the data includes tremendous repetition of that color information for a large section of the photo.

But if you simplify that data by transferring only the information that a region of the photo is a specific color as opposed to the data on the individual pixels, you can save a tremendous amount of bandwidth.

In the case of video transfer, the primary issues facing UAVs, the ability to rapidly compress the data, can save staggering amounts of time.

Allan Evans, company CEO, said that for a small company like Samplify, which has only 12 employees, getting your foot in the door at the Department of Defense is a difficult task, but that heís trying.

ďWeíre actively pursuing that market,Ē he said. ďItís about getting to the end users. Itís about getting to the guys at Special Operations Command (SOCOM), not the guys who buy things for SOCOM.Ē

The company uses both a hardware and software approach to process the compression, but power and weight are not an issue, Evans said.

The approach can be used for a wide variety of data streaming applications, Evans said, as many data sets include repetitive information. But UAVs, where military officials have cited a clear need, are one of the companyís targets.

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