Technology

October 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Every modern military today owes a major portion of its capabilities to electronics-based technologies that have automated or improved warfighting capabilities. Defense electronics have promoted and driven a revolution in military affairs that shows no signs of abating, and their impact is likely to increase in the coming years. Further, commercial electronic technologies are taking an ever-expanding role in the national security market. But this revolution brings with it potential hazards that go beyond conventional threats.

September 27, 2019
 
Students from the Autonomy New Mexico program at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque developed drone platforms in order to test hypersonic system applications. Credit: Vince Gasparich

As part of Sandia National Laboratories' quest to develop hypersonic solutions, a group of university students working at the labs this summer developed autonomy and artificial intelligence capabilities for hypersonic flight systems. They tested the capabilities on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

September 26, 2019
By Shaun Waterman
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley said biometrics will fundamentally change the way we must think about privacy during his closing keynote at the Federal Identity Forum and Expo. Photo: Shaun Waterman/Signal

Civil libertarians are wrong to fear facial recognition and other biometric identity technologies. But, they will fundamentally change the way we must think about privacy and could have very negative consequences for democracy if not regulated correctly, said constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, George Washington University, at the AFCEA International Federal Identity Forum and Expo in Tampa, Florida.

Facial recognition “is perfectly suited to blow privacy law to pieces,” Turley told the audience in his closing keynote.

September 26, 2019
By Shaun Waterman
Panelists (l-r) Duane Blackburn, S&T policy analyst for The MITRE Corporation; Ralph Rodriguez, Facebook research scientist; Logan O'Shaughnessy, attorney, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board; Arun Ross, professor, Michigan State University; and moderator Stephanie Schuckers, director of the Center for Identification Technology Research at Clarkson University, discuss misperceptions about facial recognition at FedID 2019. Photo: Shaun Waterman/Signal

One or two inaccurate studies, amplified by a media focused on conflict, have stoked Americans’ concern about facial recognition, tainted the public conversation and led to flawed legislative proposals to ban the technology, experts told AFCEA International’s Federal Identity Forum and Expo Wednesday.

“We had a couple of academic papers come out that unfortunately were pretty wrong, to be blunt,” said Duane Blackburn, a science and technology policy analyst with The Mitre Corporation, and one of the conference organizers.

September 25, 2019
Posted by Julianne Simpson
Close-up of a "smarticle"—smart active particle—showing the two 3D-printed arms, light sensor and motor. Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

Researchers have taken a new approach to developing robots—using smaller robots known as “smarticles” to unlock the principles of a potentially new locomotion technique. The 3D-printed smarticles—short for smart active particles—can only do one thing: flap their two arms. But when five of these smarticles are narrowed in a circle, they begin to push one another, forming a robophysical system known as a “supersmarticle” that can move by itself. Adding a light or sound sensor allows the supersmarticle to move in response to the stimulus.

September 24, 2019
By Shaun Waterman
Credit: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

Facial recognition technology has become “spectacularly” more effective at matching an individual with their photo in a gallery of millions of pictures, according to the latest research by U.S. government scientists.

“The algorithms now are spectacularly more successful [at matching two pictures of the same person] than they were when we first tested this technology in 2010,” Patrick Grother, the biometrics testing project leader at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) told AFCEA International’s Federal ID Forum and Expo Tuesday.

September 19, 2019
By Maryann Lawlor
The wearable authentication tokens will enable soldiers at every echelon to prove their identity when operating systems, devices and applications on the Army tactical network. Credit: Spc. Dustin D. Biven, USA, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The identification verification tools that easily work at the corner bank to access cash or online to pay a bill don't work as easily on the battlefield, where the simple action of pulling a card out of a pocket is clumsy at best and impossible at worst. To address this challenge in harsh environments, the U.S. Army is introducing tokens that can be incorporated into wearables as small as bracelets or dog tags.

September 16, 2019
Posted by: George I. Seffers
Sandia National Laboratories researchers are ready to commercialize a nanoantenna-enabled detector on an assembled focal plane array for a thermal infrared camera. The gold nanoantennas are too small to be visible on top of the detector array.    Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are ready to commercialize tiny, gold antennas to help cameras and sensors deliver clearer pictures of thermal infrared radiation for everything from stars and galaxies to people, buildings and items requiring security, lab officials announced today. In a Laboratory Directed Research and Development project, a team of researchers developed a nanoantenna-enabled detector that can boost the signal of a thermal infrared camera by up to 3 times and improve image quality by reducing dark current, a major component of image noise, by 10 to 100 times.

September 11, 2019
 
Computer scientists at the U.S. Army¹s Combat Capabilities Development Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground are working on biometric software systems to combat so-called "deepfake" or bogus media. Credit: Shutterstock/meyer_solutions

At the Combat Capabilities Development Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, researchers in the Science and Technology Directorate are working to meet a joint urgent operational needs statement regarding biometric dominance. The directorate’s Intelligence Systems and Processing Division is creating two biometric systems, called VICE and VIBES, to protect warfighters as well as discern media fakes, explained Keith Riser, computer scientist, Intelligence Systems and Processing Division, Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate. 

September 5, 2019
By David Dedinsky
Credit: Vertiv

The days of holding onto legacy IT systems are over. Last year’s Executive Order has made data center and IT modernization an issue of “how” and “when,” not “if.” Despite the mandate to modernize, federal government agencies often struggle to transition from legacy facilities and legacy mindsets, largely because of three myths.

Myth #1: “Our legacy systems are working just fine.”
The slow speed of modernization is partly due to the idea that decades-old systems still seem to be working. You may see this mindset in your own agency: If it has served us well for this long, why would we change?

September 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Synthetic biology is a top priority for the Army as well as the Defense Department, says Bryn Adams, research biologist, Army Research Laboratory.  ARL

The synthetic biology-related work that scientists at the Army Research Laboratory are performing may seem as if it is taken from a science fiction novel: harnessing the DNA of microbes to engineer military solutions such as self-healing paint on a tank. But to support soldiers of the future, this may be what is needed, a researcher says. The Army has to prepare soldiers to fight in multidomain operations across dense urban environments, megacities or austere environments, and synthetic biology capabilities could provide fuel sources, protective coatings, food or other necessities.

Novermber 20, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Bill Moore, founder of Xona Systems, hears the announcement that the judges in AFCEA International’s Innovation Shark Tank Series have selected Xona as a finalist. The company offers cybersecurity measures for so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices. Credit: Elizabeth Moon

Broadcast on CyberSecurity TV by TV Worldwide, the latest episode of AFCEA’s Innovation Shark Tank Series on November 19 featured five companies offering government solutions addressing cybersecurity, the STEM workforce, cloud migration, security of Industrial Internet of Things devices and mobile application development.

The companies were competing for selection to the association’s Shark Tank finals to be held April 22-24, 2019, at its planned joint homeland security conference with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

September 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The National Science Foundation is tackling an array of challenges associated with integrating DNA and silicon chips to advance the science of DNA-based data storage. New technologies are needed to handle the massive amounts of worldwide data generated each year.  microstock3D/Shutterstock

If the pursuit of DNA-based data storage is a race, it is probably more of a long, arduous, challenge-laden Tough Mudder than a quick, straightforward 50-yard dash. Or it may be a tortoise and hare situation with data growing at an extraordinary pace while science moves steadily along in hopes of gaining the lead.

September 1, 2019
By Jennifer Miller

A deepfake is an artificial intelligence-based technology used to produce content that presents something that didn’t actually occur. This includes text, audio, video and images. Deepfakes are a recent disruptive development in the technology world, and both the House and Senate are investigating the phenomena and have introduced bills to combat these potentially dangerous creations.

August 23, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Timothy Chung, program manager, Tactical Technology Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), briefs SIGNAL Magazine and other reporters on August 20 during DARPA's Subterranean Challenge at a coal mine research facility in Pittsburgh.

In a dark, wet and rocky research coal mine in western Pennsylvania, teams from around the globe put their robotic systems to the test in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s, or DARPA’s, latest contest. The agency designed the Subterranean Challenge, also known as the SubT Challenge, to spur the advancement of technologies that work well underground, including autonomous and other robotic systems, which could benefit first responders and the military, explained Timothy Chung, program manager, Tactical Technology Office, DARPA, to the media in attendance at the event.

August 16, 2019
By Maryann Lawlor
During the radio rodeo, the C5ISR Center places industry radios into an operationally relevant field environment to assess their ability to operate on the move in a contested, multidomain environment. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo Courtesy of PEO C3T)

The modernization, proliferation and commoditization of electronics make contending with peer and near-peer adversaries more difficult, according to Chuck Hoppe, director of science, technology and engineering at the U.S. Army’s Combat Capability Development Command C5ISR Center. “For every good thing we bring out of technology, someone inevitability wants to use it for nefarious purposes. That has been the biggest change in the past 20 years, and it’s what made things significantly more deadly and lethal,” he says.

August 1, 2019
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

Want to be disruptive, I mean truly disruptive? Try delving into history while surrounded by software engineers and app developers. Watch how the presence of a book on Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace in the 19th century raises eyebrows at your next scrum team meeting. Be passionate about the history of technology, and you will disrupt.

I recently completed a short course on the history of computer science. Accounts of generations of scientists and engineers stepping from one advancement to the next through iterative problem solving efforts provided rich details about how computers progressed and the thinking of those working to advance the broader field of study.

August 1, 2019
By George Bara
Caption: Machine translation and text analytics offer more benefits when used together, says George Bara, director of strategic accounts, Government Solutions, SDL. Credit: Original image by ibreakstock/Shutterstock. Edited by Chris D’Elia.

Government agencies face similar challenges when it comes to understanding—and gaining intelligence from— foreign language content. They need to process, manage and gain insight from large volumes of content locked away in different formats, often across multiple languages. And they need to do all of this as quickly as possible. It’s no mean feat when you consider the mindboggling amounts of content being generated: 90% of the world’s content was created over the past two years alone.

August 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/LuckyStep

Blockchain has achieved enough recognition and use so it no longer is a fad, but neither is it a panacea. Companies and organizations are discovering limitations to its usefulness as they embrace what they originally thought was the answer to all their concerns. While some of these hopes have been found wanting, the new cryptographic record-keeper is still evolving, and it ultimately may develop into a tool with utility far beyond current expectations.

August 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Blockchain technology has evolved to become an effective back office tool of information assurance, experts say. Credit: Shutterstock/phive

Blockchain, the digital ledger technology, offers an immutable record of a transaction based on a distributed consensus algorithm. The technology gained notoriety through the use of bitcoin, the digital commodity. However, experts say that the blockchain technology has moved well beyond its initial underpinning role. “Bitcoin is basically like the Model T of blockchain technology, because it was the first one,” says Lee McKnight, associate professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

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