June 27, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
The TrueNorth chip has the equivalent of 1 million neurons and 256 million synapses in a form of a postage stamp.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and IBM are collaborating on a brain-inspired supercomputing system powered by a 64-chip array. The laboratory is investigating applications for the system in embedded, mobile, autonomous settings where limiting factors today include size, weight and power.

As an end-to-end software ecosystem, the scalable platform would enable deep neural-network learning and information discovery. Its advanced pattern recognition and sensory processing power would be the equivalent of 64 million neurons and 16 billion synapses; however, the processor component only will consume approximately 10 watts, the equivalent of a dim light bulb.

June 22, 2017
By Christine Kerns

Some government leaders still hesitate to make the move to public cloud services, citing security concerns, a lack of familiarity with cloud-based applications or the perceived need that employees must be educated on the cloud. Things have changed. Commercial cloud offerings are part of the modern technology arsenal that all agencies should be considering.

June 26, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor

The military agency known for its bleeding-edge technology capabilities is reaching out to small, innovative, tech-savvy companies and research teams that they have not worked with in the past. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Strategic Technology Office (STO) invites companies and university researchers to attend Sync with STO, taking place August 2 and 3 at its conference center in Arlington, Virginia.

June 9, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Sailors assigned to the Gold crew of the guided-missile submarine USS Ohio test the new submarine bridge trainer at Trident Training Facility Bangor in Washington.

A new submarine bridge trainer recently unveiled at the Trident Training Facility in Bangor, Washington, gives submarine bridge team members a learning experience through interaction with a complex visual and auditory environment.

"This is by far the most advanced trainer that I have experienced at TRITRAFAC [Trident Training Facility] Bangor," said Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Christopher Goetz, USN, assigned to USS Ohio Gold Crew, the test submarine crew for the new trainer. "With the 360-degree view, the vibrations you feel while on the bridge, the realistic wind and climate changes and the high-tech binoculars that let you see into the distance, it really prepares you for being on a real submarine.”

June 15, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Stephen Alexander, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ciena, speaks at AFCEA's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium.

The constant acceleration of technology is pushing for radical changes in the networking arena, tapping systems to continuously scale capacity and connectivity. 

The assessment might sound like a daunting problem. It's not, offered the morning keynote speaker on the final day of AFCEA International's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium, or DCOS. “If you’re in the networking space, get ready: It’s going to be an interesting ride,” said Stephen Alexander, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ciena

June 14, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Steven Walker, acting director of DARPA, speaks at AFCEA's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium.

It might be true that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) invented the Internet. And so, in some way, the agency could be considered at fault for the burgeoning ecosystem of cyberthreats, the agency's acting director joked Wednesday. But DARPA also shoulders some of the responsibility for finding protective solutions for the vulnerable space.

June 9, 2017
By Breann Pendleton

Researchers hope to transform military communications with blockchain technology, the backbone of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

To realize this vision, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a phase 1 grant to Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO) to develop a secure, unhackable messaging and transaction platform for the U.S. military. ITAMCO will work to create robust and efficient technology for Defense Department communications. Uses will include communication between ground troops and their headquarters or between intelligence officers and the Pentagon.

June 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The ISIS terrorist group has modified a video game called ARMA III. It allows users to rack up points by killing Westerners or others considered to be enemies of ISIS. Virtual reality, or VR, is improving to the point where terrorists are able to exploit it.

As virtual reality technology becomes less expensive and delivers a more realistic, immersive experience, some national security experts warn that it is only a matter of time before terrorists use it for recruiting, training and plotting attacks.

The virtual reality (VR) marketplace is exploding. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, Microsoft HoloLens, One Plus and Jaunt are competing in a rapidly growing field. Greenlight Insights, a VR research firm, projects that the global market will reach $7.2 billion by year’s end and nearly $75 billion by 2021. 

June 1, 2017
By Medha Tare, Ewa Golonka and Martyn Clark
A panoramic camera view shows the room setup before conversations are recorded for REVEAL 360 Degrees, a joint immersive learning research project conducted by the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language and the university’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

Language study is a national imperative, and the technology shaping it goes as far back as 1877, when Thomas Edison’s phonograph promised to break down geographical barriers to let Chicago learners practice German as it is spoken in Berlin.

Fast-forward 140 years to an era when virtual reality (VR) is transforming language instruction as we know it. Exciting breakthroughs capitalize on the rapidly progressing technology to help deliver critical language and sociocultural content and experiences faster than ever before with fewer resources than full immersion experiences.

June 1, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Andrew Sweeney, seated, and another industrial designer with Battelle’s Human Centric Design group use virtual reality technology to get user feedback about a hand-held medical device.

There are days when Andrew Sweeney transforms from a 38-year-old industrial designer into a superhero. In his Columbus, Ohio, office, with one familiar swipe of his smartphone, he becomes an 80-year-old diabetic patient with compromised motor skills and even poorer eyesight that make it really difficult to grip an insulin injector.

June 1, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) adapted Microsoft’s multipurpose HoloLens augmented reality headset for military training. The ONR created a comprehensive Augmented Immersive Team Training (AITT) system that pairs the technology with a laptop, software, battery pack and quadcopters to support forward-observer training in live field environments.

There is a huge difference for combat troops between being told a mortar has destroyed their command outpost and seeing the destruction firsthand. Certainly, blowing things up comes with a variety of risks and costs. This is one key reason that the U.S. Defense Department has turned to augmented reality technologies for many of its operational tasks. 

May 26, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program seeks to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft.

Seeking a quick launch capability, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is opting for a hybrid satellite launcher that takes off vertically, hurls a payload into orbit and then lands horizontally like an aircraft. The Experimental Spaceplane, or XS-1, somewhat resembles the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B spaceplane but uses recycled space shuttle engines for primary propulsion.

May 18, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
The FORTIS K-SRD supports warfighters’ legs and boosts knee capacity, enabling them to travel longer distances while carrying heavy equipment.

A new computer-controlled exoskeleton is now available to help warfighters carry heavy equipment in physically challenging environments. The FORTIS Knee Stress Release Device (K-SRD) features military-specification batteries approved for infantry use, improved control box ergonomics and faster actuators that generate more torque.

Using Dermoskeleton bionic augmentation technology developed by B-Temia Incorporated, the device increases leg capacity for tasks that require repetitive or continuous kneeling, squatting, lifting, dragging, carrying or climbing with heavy loads.

May 17, 2017
By Breann Pendleton
Sandia National Laboratories researchers Amanda Kohler and Ken Sale study the bacteria they used to produce LigM. Photo by Dino Vournas

There is good waste and there is bad waste. Sandia National Laboratories found some very good waste.

Recently, scientists discovered the potential of biofuel waste and the competition it could bring for petroleum.

While fuel made from plants can cost more than petroleum-based fuel, using a product called lignin offers a cost-saving benefit. Lignin is plant waste left over from biofuel production. While it can be burned to produce electricity, often it is left unused due to lack of knowledge on how to convert it into useful products, such as renewable plastics, fabrics, nylon and adhesives.

May 16, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
A screenshot shows the launch Monday of an Inmarsat-5 Global Xpress satellite aboard the SpaceX Falcon rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The fourth Inmarsat Global Xpress satellite successfully boosted into space Monday evening on a SpaceX Falcon rocket, adding broadband capabilities to a network of high frequency satellites.

May 15, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
New technologies selected by the DHS will be introduced to cybersecurity professionals through a series of Demonstration Day events taking place around the country.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transition to Practice (TTP) program tomorrow unveils to investors, developers and integrators eight cybersecurity technologies with commercial potential. The budding future capabilities, developed with federal funding, range from helping cyber analysts deal with data overload when filtering social media content to protecting power transmission infrastructure by detecting sensor failures or identifying cyber attacks in real time.

May 11, 2017
By Chris Collura
Photo by Justin Main

In spite of an outcry from the federal work force for heightened access to wireless networks, U.S. government spending that would extend the service into offices reached a five-year low of $820.2 million in fiscal year 2015, a decline of 21 percent from its peak three years earlier, according to market research firm Govini.

May 12, 2017
By Julianne Simpson
SIGNAL's Editor in Chief Robert K. Ackerman sits down with Jasson Walker Jr., founder, president and CEO of cFocus Software Inc., to discuss authority to operate as a service.

Cloud computing is fast becoming the new normal. It can increase efficiency and improve cash flow, making it an attractive and necessary service for both industry and government.

As part of SIGNAL’s executive video series, Editor-in-Chief Robert K. Ackerman sat down with Jasson Walker Jr., founder, president and CEO of cFocus Software Inc., to discuss authority to operate (ATO) as a service. The company’s main focus is providing customers risk management framework compliance when they are looking to move to the cloud.

May 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The various components of the so-called electronic backpack are designed to stimulate the dragonfly’s flight control neurons.

Researchers are planning the inaugural test flight of a cyborg dragonfly, a brand-new type of micro aerial vehicle. Harnessing the power of nature, the hybrid system is smaller, lighter and stealthier than most man-made systems and could prove valuable for military reconnaissance and a variety of other missions. 

Scientists with The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Ashburn, Virginia, are partnering on a Draper-funded project known as DragonflEye

May 9, 2017
By David E. Meadows

I wrote about STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—being a critical element of national security (CENS) in July 2015. At the time, 8.5 million STEM jobs already were on the market, with the number growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 9 million additional STEM graduates will be needed by 2022.

So, how is the nation going to meet this CENS need that crosses nominal disciplines such as the economy, power, water, transportation and defense?