Military Embedded Systems

Small Business Pavilion a big draw at SOF Week


May 10, 2023

Dan Taylor

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Argos man-portable standoff trace threat detection system (Alakai Defense)

SOF WEEK 2023 -- TAMPA, Fla. From cyber security to rapid prototyping to Faraday bags, small defense contractors crowded into the Small Business Pavilion during the 2023 SOF Week annual conference throughout the week, with many describing the event as a success with higher booth traffic than expected.

Phelps 20/20 showcased its Multi-Domain Edge AI technology at their booth. Their offering included advanced computer vision and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) for Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) applications. The system caters to various object classes and spectral bands, enabling detection and analysis of near-peer threats in multi-domain operations environments, the company says.

The technology is compatible with Windows and Linux-based systems and provides fully autonomous edge processing and connects to most EO/IR (electro-optical/infrared) devices in the field, the company says. The technology is designed to detect vehicles, people, animals, boats, and airplanes, and recognize license plates, faces, and numbers. The goal is to help operators interpret and react to large data volumes, providing real-time, enhanced, and tagged actionable intelligence.

Another company, Alakai Defense, showed off their Argos man-portable standoff trace threat detection system, a new product in the company's list of offerings.

"We do stand-off threat detection at range," says Kyle Harden from Alakai Defense. "The benefit is not having multiple sensors that the operator needs to have on one hand."

Argos is designed to enhance detection capabilities at greater distances for increased safety. The technology is smaller and lighter, and it enables classification and real-time specific identification for rapid assessments in military and commercial applications, detecting homemade explosives, chemical warfare agents, and components used in nuclear weapon processing, the company says.

Argos is compatible with uncrewed ground vehicles (UGVs) and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), and its solar blind functionality allows for detection of invisible traces of solids and liquids in direct sunlight, the company claims.

Harden says the show has been a success for them.

"It's great to be able to get [this technology] in front of a different subset," he notes. "So as well as the U.S. side of it, [we're also] seeing the foreign nationals be able to come into the scene, seeing what's offered and available. It's a big highlight for us."

A representative from Paragon Cyber Solutions also says they are impressed with traffic in the Small Business Pavilion, and had spent all day introducing their technology to people. Paragon was advertising themselves at the show as a "boutique IT/cyber security provider."

They handle security audits and gap analysis, security policies and procedures, system engineering, third party risk management, vulnerability and risk assessments, and workforce development.

Also at the pavilion, Optia introduced its portable edge-node and kitting solutions, offering tactical-edge processing and storage for graphics and AI/ML applications. The "Ammo Can" series eliminates the need for rack-mount operational transit cases, reducing weight and footprint, the company says.

Optia also touted virtualized GPU capabilities, supporting multiple simultaneous thin-client intel analysts and processing numerous UAV data feeds. To ensure sustained power supply, Optia has engineered a rugged uninterruptible power supply (rUPS) to complement the Ammo Can series, the company added.

SLNT, a manufacturer of Faraday and signal-blocking bags, showcased their products at the pavilion, pitching them as an effective solution for provide servicemen and women who need the bags for protection against electronic surveillance and data theft.

The Faraday bags shield sensitive electronic equipment, such as communication devices and tactical mission data, from potential interference or unauthorized access, and they could allow military personnel to protect mission-critical data and safeguard against cyber threats, the company says.