June 2008

Executive compass | June 2008

Ground-breaking Ortho On-the-Fly tool orthorectifies images in near-real-time

Kurt de Venecia

Kurt de Venecia

It wasn’t long ago that pre-processing of imagery as an advanced or extended step was required for the simplest viewing solutions. One example of pre-processing that is nearly obsolete is epipolar rectification for stereo visualization. An on-the-fly solution for epipolar rectification in the late 1980s to early 1990s required custom hardware and software solutions, affordable only by large government agencies such as the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA). In 1990, these early solutions cost the DMA over $1 million per workstation.

In the early 1990s, commercial photogrammetry software applications, such as SOCET SET®, running on commercial hardware platforms, i.e., Sun®, SGI®, or PC workstations, required pre-processing of left/right stereo pairs for epipolar rectification. The requirements for epipolar rectification produced copies of the original images with a simple affine transformation applied to both left/right images to correct for offsets, rotation, and scales. The resulting image pairs were stored as separate files, which were loaded into the display for comfortable stereo viewing. The minifications, or image pyramids, had to be computed for these derived images as well as the raw ones. There are still products today that create left/right stereo pairs, enabling software applications to work with the imagery. However, on-the-fly epipolar processing and smart photogrammetry software solutions could make these products obsolete.

At the 2008 BAE Systems GXP International User Conference in San Diego last month, we demonstrated ground-breaking new tools for SOCET GXP® v3.0, scheduled for release later this year. One of these tools is Ortho On-the-Fly, which orthorectifies images in near-real-time with minimal mathematical compromises when compared to similar functionality in SOCET SET’s Ortho module. This innovative development is a sign of the times. The number-crunching power of today’s desktop and laptop PCs has increased to remarkable levels. Powerful computers, coupled with the availability of low-cost terrain and raw imagery with fairly accurate metadata, allows tools like Ortho On-the-Fly to be used immediately.

Ortho On-the-Fly orthorectifies raw imagery, and mosaics the component images together to produce a continuous image, which can cover large areas. The large area coverage mosaic can be used for immediate product generation or further analysis. This functionality makes SOCET GXP unique in the marketplace. It offers image analysts, geospatial analysts and mapping professionals an easy- to-use application, as well as a visual conduit into advanced capabilities within the software.

Throughout the GXP User Conference, the Ortho On-the-Fly tool exemplified a recurring theme — that product processing of raw imagery and data sources should be done by the user at the workstation level. Keynote presentations echoed the necessity for analysts to have access to raw data, such as complex radar data, as part of the workflow. Tools like Ortho On-the-Fly allow first responders to view and analyze imagery in a corrected form (orthorectified) or revert back to the raw data.

There are advantages to having the original data in this convenient, new way. For example, mosaicking imagery without orthorectification will result in discontinuities at the join lines between component images, which are likely be confusing or annoying to users. Mosaicking with the Ortho On-the-Fly tool allows for image correction; consequently, these discontinuities are minimized.

On the other hand, raw projective imagery allows true 3D measurement, whereas measurement in a 2D orthorectified mosaic with interpolation in the underlying elevation data to estimate Z is not as good or accurate. Therefore, Ortho On-the-Fly gives analysts the benefit of an orthorectified mosaic from the raw images, thereby ensuring that these raw images remain available for precise measurement or targeting. Finally, the raw imagery is required for triangulation with error propagation, data extraction such as automatic terrain generation, visualization, and other advanced products.

eXtreme Analysis with Ortho-On-the-Fly: a closer look

The example below illustrates how easy it is for terrain and imagery to be combined for an Ortho On-the-Fly result. This example uses SRTM DTED level 1, which has near worldwide coverage that can be purchased for $60 per DVD (region), with all 13 DVDs covering nearly the entire globe, and Digital Globes’ WorldView-1 rigorous imagery in NCDRD format with a horizontal and vertical error of a few meters in this sample. The displacement of the imagery is clearly visible in the non-orthorectified display, whereas the displacement is only a couple of meters after pressing the Ortho On-the-Fly button on the SOCET GXP Multiport. The amount of displacement can be reduced further using SOCET GXP v3.0′s advanced tools for triangulation and automatic terrain generation.

Mosaic with SRTM DTED level 1 and Ortho On-the-Fly.

Mosaic with SRTM DTED level 1 and Ortho On-the-Fly.

Mosaic without terrain and without Ortho On-the-Fly.

Mosaic without terrain and without Ortho On-the-Fly.

The ease of use and real-time processing of raw imagery allows analysts and mapping professionals to produce a variety of products that were once created in advanced or extended processes. SOCET GXP v3.0 provides tools for “do-it-yourself” users, from data analysis to product generation. A do-it-yourself user can improve the accuracy of an Ortho On-the-Fly solution when the georeferencing information of the input imagery and the underlying terrain model is inaccurate. The do-it-yourself user has access to tools such as triangulation and terrain generation/edit that allow higher levels of accuracy when the input data needs improvement. These processes are still part of advanced or extended batch solutions, but they are easily accessible from the Ortho On-the-Fly view or from the SOCET GXP Workspace Manager.

Today’s faster computer processors and data pipes allow on-the-fly process advances to include near-real-time orthorectification and mosaicking for hundreds of images as seen in the SOCET GXP v3.0 Multiport. With tools such as Ortho On-the-Fly, orthorectified products stored as separate files may become as obsolete as storing separate epipolar rectified images files for stereo visualization. Before that happens, there are many places where batch processes remain necessary to allow fully productive image exploitation. One such process is the creation of the image pyramids required to accomplish real-time image zooming.

Eventually, image zooming for viewing, automatic tie point measurement for triangulation, and automatic terrain generation may all be on-the-fly. The benefit of not creating image pyramids would yield a savings of one-third of the disk space consumed by the full-resolution image, as well as the burden of housekeeping and data management for image pyramid files. It’s only a matter of time before on-the-fly processing is standard for many analysis and geospatial product generation workflows.

Kurt de Venecia
Kurt de Venecia
Director of GXP Product Management
BAE Systems GXP

GXP in the news | June 2008

BAE Systems’ Dan London featured in Military Geospatial Technology Industry Interview

Dan London

Q: What is the mission of your SOCET GXP software, and in what ways does it provide unique benefits to users?

A: We believe that the distinction between image analysis, geospatial analysis, mapping and photogrammetric tasks is diminishing such that the roles of many individual domains are merging. We have listened to existing and prospective users who must learn and operate several different software packages to build and finish products. Based on feedback collected during user conferences, workshops and focus groups, we have learned that individuals are responsible for a growing number of tasks that require a wide range of skills and rapid turnaround times. And organizations are looking for cost savings across the board.

In response to these issues, we have been developing a new product architecture over the last several years that is the foundation for a comprehensive application called SOCET GXP. We are combining SOCET SET (geospatial analysis, mapping and photogrammetric tools); MATRIX (image analysis tools); VITec ELT (image analysis and mapping tools); and Common Geopositioning Services (targeting tools) into a single software product architecture that allows users to perform multiple tasks from a single user interface. Moreover, HSI/MSI and advanced geospatial intelligence capabilities have been added as well. By providing all of the required functionality in one product with a single user interface, BAE Systems empowers organizations to consolidate resources and increase productivity. SOCET GXP is flexible, easy to learn, and helps users create accurate, high-quality products quickly and efficiently. Click here to read more…

June 2008 | What's the buzz?

New plug-and-play trackballs for SOCET SET/SOCET GXP offer USB connectivity

ITAC Systems' $200 3D input trackballs for SOCET SET and SOCET GXP have USB connectivity — no drivers to install or support.

ITAC Systems' $200 3D input trackballs for SOCET SET and SOCET GXP have USB connectivity — no drivers to install or support.

ITAC Systems, Inc., developer and manufacturer of trackballs and other computer input devices, has designed two custom USB compatible trackballs for SOCET SET and SOCET GXP stereo workstations. Jim McKinney, vice president of sales for ITAC Systems, unveiled the new evolution
Fx-Scroll for SOCET GXP and evolution Fx-Scroll for SOCET SET trackballs at the 2008 GXP International User Conference last month in San Diego. The new evolution Fx-Scroll products are part of the Mouse-Trak® product line, popular on BAE Systems’ computer workstations for many years, and the only products on the market that offer direct USB connectivity for SOCET SET and SOCET GXP.

Mouse-Trak trackballs give users who spend many hours a day navigating large maps and images an alternative to the typical PC mouse. They are designed to compliment a standard mouse or trackball and provide powerful z-axis control, as well as six programmable keyboard function keys for application-specific tasks. The programmable trackball keys let users map frequently used functions with any of the six keys, and the ergonomic design eliminates the need for repetitive side-to-side motion, which helps reduce stress and injuries to hands, wrists and arms. The evolution Fx-Scroll sits on the desk under one hand, leaving the other hand free for standard mouse and keyboard activity.

“These new evolution Fx-scroll trackballs are going to make a lot of our users very happy.
You just plug them in and they’re ready to go.”

—Rob Stout, Product Manager, BAE Systems GXP

The smooth z-axis control, rugged construction, and economical price are favored by many customers worldwide. In addition, Mouse-Trak devices are reliable, and perform well in harsh environments. The evolution Fx-Scroll for SOCET GXP and evolution Fx-Scroll for SOCET SET, both designed for optimum productivity and ease of use, each sell for $200, which makes them a cost-effective option for secondary mouse navigation on stereo workstations.

Because Mouse-Trak input devices are convenient and easy to operate, many companies such as United Airlines, Motorola, Morgan Stanley, Intel, and Sun Microsystems have implemented similar Mouse-Trak products in their work environments.

About ITAC Systems, Inc.

ITAC Systems, Inc. provides standard and custom trackballs in addition to other input devices for a variety of applications and environments. For more information please visit: http://www.itacsystems.com/inlink.cfm?ref=126

ITAC Systems, Inc offers USB models for different operational environments: office environments, less pristine forward areas, and the dirty, dusty field. All models provide smooth z-axis control, function keys, and require no driver installation.

ITAC Systems USB trackball models
Office desktops Industrial desktops Rugged field areas
evolution Fx-Scroll

evolution Fx-Scroll

Industrial Fx-Scroll

Industrial Fx-Scroll

HAND-TRAK Fx-Scroll for


  • Designed to complement a standard mouse or trackball
  • Six keyboard function keys, all quickly and easily assigned in SOCET SET or SOCET GXP
  • Powerful z-axis control
  • Designed to complement a standard mouse or trackball
  • Four keyboard function keys, all quickly and easily assigned in SOCET SET or SOCET GXP
  • Smooth, fast z-axis control
  • Optional dust ring to install in dusty locations
  • Built with Mouse-Trak Industrial trackball mechanical parts
  • Suitable for use in forward areas
  • Designed to complement a standard mouse or trackball
  • Three keyboard function keys, all quickly and easily assigned in SOCET SET or SOCET GXP
  • Smooth, fast z-axis control
  • Sealed (NEMA 4, IP66 rated)
  • Very small footprint
  • Suitable in high g-force operational surroundings
  • No cursor drift due to vibration
  • Dimmable for low light applications

Destinations | June 2008

GXP participates in Korean Defense User Group meeting

Eric Bruce, GXP field sales, and Thao Duong, GXP support, participated in the 2008 Korea Defense User Group (KDUG) meeting at Yongsan AB in Seoul, Korea, April 17 – 18. The KDUG is a two-day event organized by ESRI®, featuring GIS presentations, workshops, and an overview of GIS use in the Korean Peninsula. Approximately 100 attendees from all areas of the Korean defense industry, including the Republic of Korea, Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and other organizations participated in the conference. The event included briefings by ESRI and partners, as well as GIS workshops and demonstrations hosted by commercial vendors.

Eric Bruce delivered a briefing, Imagery Processing and GIS Integration, prefaced by the Tales from the war front  video, which emphasized how important it is for commercial vendors to be aware of how their tools are being used not only in the U.S., but in deployed operations as well. Bruce explained that while defense contractors are normally given a list of requirements to satisfy, it is up to commercial vendors such as ESRI and BAE Systems to work with users to define requirements for software releases that provide near-real-time solutions to the war fighter. He acknowledged the importance of these types of joint partnerships that yield new technology, such as Spatially Enabled Exploitation (SEE), the SOCET GXP module that provides direct access to the ESRI geodatabase, and SOCET for ArcGIS® (SFA), the SOCET SET module that allows the ArcGIS community to exploit stereo imagery for the collection and editing of features and attributes in the familiar ArcMap® environment. These tools provide defense customers with solutions never seen before in the image analysis community.

Bruce’s briefing, and complementary workshop, focused on the merging of image analysis and geospatial analysis — a trend that was recognized by the audience — as he witnessed many heads nodding in agreement. Apparently, commands are doing more and more geospatial analysis these days, and are looking for a versatile tool they can learn easily to help them achieve many tasks in one shot.

June 2008 | SOCET GXP | Software update

eXtreme Analysis with SOCET GXP v3.0®

Are you ready to become an eXtreme Analyst (XA)?

SOCET GXP v3.0, scheduled for release in August 2008, fuses image analysis and geospatial analysis into one flexible software package designed for ease of use, enhanced performance, and unprecedented accuracy. All of the functionality you need for comprehensive analysis, geospatial production, and mapping is available in one complete package. Notable additions in SOCET GXP v3.0 include photogrammetric functionality, the intuitive Microsoft® Office 2007 Ribbon user interface, and workflows designed to maximize productivity. Enhancements range from simple tools such as the drag-and-drop glove cursor, which aligns images and features, to more complex tools for fully automated triangulation (image registration). The new Ortho On-the-Fly orthorectification and mosaic process allows imagery to be corrected for accurate exploitation of registered imagery, terrain, and vector data.

Enhance your performance and become an XA with SOCET GXP v3.0 — the ultimate software for rapid mapping, visualization, and analysis.

June 2008 | SOCET GXP | Software update

New licensing for SOCET GXP® v3.0

SOCET GXP customers will be pleased to learn that we have developed a new, four-tiered system to simplify licensing. We understand that the methodology currently used for licensing is confusing — not only to customers, but for GXP Sales and Support teams as well. With as many as 70 modules to account for, the current system for managing licenses is not ideal.

Therefore, starting with SOCET GXP v3.0, we are introducing a new license schema, with add-on modules at the top two tiers. In this new scenario, licenses will be issued with or without dongles. SOCET SET v5.4.1 licenses are compatible with SOCET GXP v3.0.

The four license tiers are as follows:

  • SOCET GXP GeoFoundation
    Advanced; replaces SOCET GXP v2.3.1 Base and Core
    Advanced viewer with linked panels, area of interest, basic analysis, annotation, auto roam, chipping, clipboard, load, print, SEE Basic Extraction, pan-sharpening, terrain loading/display, histogram, advanced/classified sensor models, Ruler, Control point editor, advanced query and attribution for feature extraction, GeoPDF®*, and Metadata Editor.
    * Requires a license from TerraGo
  • SOCET GXP GeoFusion
    Replaces SOCET GXP IA Bundle and SOCET SET Core
    Visual Coverage Tool (VCT), Image Comparison, Registration, Video Play and Capture.
  • SOCET GXP GeoAnalysis
    Replaces SOCET GXP v2.3.1 IA Advanced
    Stereo, HSI/MSI, Map Finishing, Flythrough, and Ortho On-the-Fly.
  • SOCET GXP eXtreme Analysis
    Includes all GeoFusion / GeoAnalysis functionality, click here for more information.

Look for more information on new licensing in the coming months.

June 2008 | SOCET SET | Software update

SOCET SET® v5.4.1 patch

A SOCET SET v5.4.1 patch is available which includes an enhancement to read MAPLOB/GEOLOB georeferencing information for NITF orthophotos from AGP/ADSS. It also contains FPE replacement fixes to support dual ops.

June 2008 | SOCET SET | Software update

New volumetric 3-D Urban Modeler tool takes feature extraction to a new level

UrbanModeler includes special volumetric topology tools: snap to roof, grouping, snap to face, face and vertex sharing.

UrbanModeler includes special volumetric topology tools: snap to roof, grouping, snap to face, face and vertex sharing.

UrbanModeler is a new add-on module used to construct 3-D building and city models from imagery. The module offers a quick and easy way to create, measure, and store 3-D models. Completed site models can be exported in a variety of formats including shapefiles, SOCET SET/SOCET GXP feature database (FDB), OpenFlight, and Open Inventor.

UrbanModeler has a built-in 3-D stereo viewer; an impressive suite of volumetric tools for many building and road types; and pre-defined templates. Cue cards are employed as interactive instructional aids to assist users in dropping points in the correct sequence. Currently in the final testing phase, UrbanModeler for SOCET SET v5.4.1 will be available in June 2008.

June 2008 | SOCET SET | Software update

VrOne® update available now

Cardinal Systems has built VrOne v3.6.00 for SOCET SET v5.4.1. VrOne SOCET SET users with active Upgrade Entitlement (UE) should have received the email announcement stating the details of this update.

June 2008 | Tips and tricks

SOCET GXP® Launch Manager

SOCET GXP Launch Manager

SOCET GXP Launch Manager

The SOCET GXP Launch Manager offers a convenient way to access all licensed modules available to SOCET GXP. To run SOCET GXP using all of the licenses available to you:

  1. From the Workspace Manager, select File > SOCET GXP Launch Manager.
  2. Select the check box for the first licensed module name on the list.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the list.
  4. Hold down the SHIFT key and select the check box for the last module on the list.

All licensed modules should now be checked. For SOCET GXP to remember all of the modules selected:

  1. In the Quick Configuration section, check the Save as Collection check box.
  2. For the Name field, enter a term such as “All.”
  3. Check the Always use this Collection, if available check box.

Click the Launch button to run SOCET GXP with all of the modules you selected!

Bits and pieces | June 2008

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base selects SOCET GXP® for image analysis operations

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), Ohio has chosen SOCET GXP as their tool of choice to store graphics and features with their ground coordinates and attributes in a geodatabase for future retrieval and updating. WPAFB is the first Air Force unit to begin using SOCET GXP in conjunction with the ESRI geodatabase to perform analysis in a new way. WPAFB joins many other military commands in adopting SOCET GXP to complete complex image analysis tasks.