HUNTSVILLE, Ala., May 8 -- Three members of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center team have won the Federal Lab Consortium’s Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for a computer-based system that is becoming a widely used law enforcement tool to digitally enhance video.
It is the latest in a number of awards recognizing the far-reaching capabilities of VISAR, short for video image stabilization and registration. VISAR is a system that can make minute details in poor-quality video, such as car license plates, readable. The innovative technology was created by David Hathaway, a solar physicist, and Paul Meyer, an atmospheric scientist, at the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville. The organization is a partnership of the Marshall Center, Alabama universities and other federal agencies. Sammy Nabors, Commercial Technology Lead at the center, also will be recognized for his work as commercialization representative for VISAR.
Hathaway, Meyer and Nabors will receive the award today at the consortium’s annual meeting in Little Rock, Ark.
The scientists’ foray into the world of forensics began when they helped the FBI analyze video of the bombing that killed two people and injured hundreds more at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta. Hathaway and Meyer successfully clarified nighttime videotapes made with handheld camcorders, revealing important details about the bomb and the explosion. As scientists, Hathaway and Meyer had developed expertise and equipment for enhancing images of the Sun and Earth’s atmosphere. They used this experience and worked together to invent the VISAR technology.
Since their first case with the FBI, Hathaway and Meyer have worked over the years to refine the VISAR technology, and that technology has been transferred to companies, such as Huntsville’s Intergraph Corp. and BARCO Inc. Display Systems of Duluth, Ga., that produce video enhancement systems for law enforcement, the military and home computers.