July 2009 Meeting Summary

On July 30, 2009, the Southern California Chapter of the ION held a meeting, hosted by NavCom in Torrance, CA. 43 people were attendance to listen to a presentation by James Kain of GeoVantage. A short biography and abstract of the presentation follows, and the slides used during the meeting are attached.

Capsule Biography of James E. Kain 
Mr. Kain has practiced the art of Kalman filtering and Navigation since the 60’s beginning at Draper Laboratory while he was at MIT, followed by five years at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and then through 22 years at TASC (now Northrop Grumman). Since the early 90’s he has founded multiple small commercial businesses all with core technology fueled by modern estimation and aided navigation. His long experience with the Kalman filter has provided a unique insight into the applications issues of what he considers “the most important algorithmic development of the 20th century”. Over his tenure at GeoVantage since 1998, he has pursued breakthrough methods to bring affordable precision geospatial information to domestic and international markets.

Abstract of Mr. Kain’s Talk
Slides: Kalman Filter Implementation with Improved Numerical Properties
Mr. Kain will provide a two-part presentation of the work that he and others have done in developing a new mechanization of robust, high rate Kalman filter signal processing algorithms and will present their application in remote sensing. His company, GeoVantage, has pioneered remote sensing with very low cost platforms which compete in performance with very much more expensive platforms and which provide very rapid access to users in agriculture, forestry and mapping solution providers.

The quote below provides a preview of his signal processing topic:

“The Kalman filter’s generalized model-based approach to optimal estimation would appear to be ideal for accelerating the transition from the conceptual definition of an estimation problem to final algorithm implementation – bypassing the selection and testing of alternative suboptimal designs. This has not been the case for engineering disciplines such as communications and speech processing. We offer two reasons:

  • Kalman filter robustness issues remain even after over 30 years of refining the details of implementation.
  • Processing speed for Kalman filter solutions cannot approach the many-MHz update cycle times demanded for modern signal processing algorithms.”

Mr. Kain’s second topic addresses affordable mapping, summarized as:

Google Earth and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth have legitimized Remote Sensing “for the rest of us”. Precision spatial information has demonstrated broad consumer interest and georegistered imagery holds the key for immediate visual feedback. The merging of precision navigation and digital imagery transforms pictures into information. Extreme precision GPS, MEMS inertial technology, and the continued acceleration of digital imagery capability suggest a ubiquitous imagery-based web-delivered telepresence. Mr. Kain will discuss the current GeoVantage geospatial markets, technology directions that will change this landscape and soon-to-emerge systems that will bring the planet to your desktop.