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Northrop Grumman Supplies TouchTable Technology to CNN's 'The Situation Room'

CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
by Staff Writers
Reston, VA (SPX) Jan 23, 2007
Under a recent agreement signed with Cable News Network (CNN), Northrop Grumman is providing an Integrated Collaboration Environment (ICE), including a TouchTable, to CNN's "The Situation Room," a news and political program anchored by Wolf Blitzer. The geospatial components of ICE primarily utilize commercial satellite imagery and integrate it with other map and data sources into an interactive display using state-of-the-art geographic information systems.

Since every story has a 'who, what, why, when and where' component, the TouchTable provides viewers a virtual understanding of 'where' a story takes place and gives audiences better context of unfolding news events. For example, during the state funeral for President Gerald Ford, CNN used ICE to show a satellite view of the procession route from the U.S. Capitol Building to the National Cathedral. It was also used following the President's new Iraq policy primetime speech to the nation on Jan. 10, 2007.

ICE delivers essential capabilities for addressing real-world reporting challenges in an easy-to-use and visually appealing fashion. Using the power of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery as a backdrop, ICE will provide CNN an innovative, high-tech and visually compelling way to report newsworthy events or to help explain the geographical background surrounding these events.

TouchTable creates a vivid, immersive environment that encourages geospatial collaboration by multiple users who operate the system through simple, intuitive gestures. For example, moving a hand across the surface pans the display, two fingers moving apart zooms it out, and two fingers moving together zooms it in.

"Until now, this cutting edge technology has been primarily used for intelligence, national defense and homeland security missions, but we are proud to now support CNN's ongoing mission to collect, analyze, and report the news through innovative and visually compelling storytelling," said Dan Allen, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems sector's Intelligence Systems Division.

Northrop Grumman's ICE team includes GeoEye Inc., Dulles, Va. (Nasdaq:GEOY), the world's largest commercial satellite imagery company; ESRI, Redlands, Calif., the leading geographic information system technology provider; TouchTable, Inc., Pasadena, Calif., provider of TouchTable gesture-based systems; and MDA Federal Inc., Rockville, Md., a provider of imagery processing and maps as well as environmental, geographical, and weather related services and information systems.

The TouchTable, an 84-inch, touch-sensitive computer display screen, is the primary visualization component of ICE. The pool-table sized, high-definition interactive display is a centerpiece of "The Situation Room" set. The system will be able to utilize imagery from GeoEye's next-generation imaging satellite due to be launched later this year.

"The Situation Room," assembles top CNN correspondents, analysts, contributors and guests for complete, up-to-the minute coverage of the day's events. Modeled on the concept of the White House Situation Room, the program combines traditional reporting methods with the latest innovative online resources, making the entire process of newsgathering more transparent and placing the latest news and information at the viewers' fingertips.

"Every news story has a geographical component," said Mark Brender, vice president of communications and marketing for GeoEye. "Rapid advances in satellite imagery technology have made it possible for the TouchTable to take audiences all over the world, especially to stories where there is limited media access. Technology has always been a driving force in news reporting, and CNN is on the leading edge of applying satellite imagery in its reporting," he said.

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