News Article

Video technology from AFR spots stray radiation
Date: Mar 20, 2008
Author: Efrain Viscarolasaga
Source: bizjournals ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Advanced Fuel Research Inc of East Hartford, CT

An East Hartford, Conn.-based maker of radiation-spotting video technology has completed the first phase of its product development under a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, and this week reported its findings to federal officials in Washington, D.C.

Executives at the company, Advanced Fuel Research Inc. -- who will find out whether they will receive a
Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant when the agency's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office reviews the company's report -- said the research was successful in medical environments and with new video-compression technology.

The positive results also gives the technology new legs after AFR cut ties in January with spinout Vidiation LLC, which had been licensing portions of the technology.

AFR has developed what it calls an "analytics engine" that can spot radiation in as little as a few frames of live video. The company has been working with a variety of government agencies on the technology, including the U.S. Air Force.

The testing for the DHS project was concentrated on, but not limited to, medical settings, according to officials. AFR worked with the Yale New Haven Hospital and the Hartford Hospital to spot unchecked isotopes in research areas, executives said.

"Hospitals are not as secure as, say, a nuclear facility, so they could be good early adopters of this technology," said Mike Serio, president of AFR.

The testing also revealed an unexpected positive in the technology, according to the technology inventor and AFR CTO Eric Rubenstein. As part of the testing process, Rubenstein and his team worked with using MPEG4 video-compression technology, as opposed to the usual JPEG format.

"It was surprising that MPEG4 is actually better in certain aspects and worse in none," he said, adding that the MPEG4 format enables the system to detect radiation faster and at lower levels in some situations. The details related to why, he said, are still being reviewed.

AFR's positive review comes after the company dissolved its memorandum of understanding with Illinios-based Vidiation, which it spun out early in 2007. Executives at AFR declined to discuss the severed relationship in detail. Calls to Vidiation were not returned.

In an AFR statement released in January, officials said that, as a result of the dissolution of the relationship, AFR is now "unencumbered with respect to its right to license or otherwise exploit its technology," including a pending patent for the radiation detection system.