Still sophisticated, ENVI gets easier to read

Since its introduction in 1994, the Environment for Visualizing Images (ENVI) has been a powerful tool employed by specialists for purposes such as detecting abnormalities in medical images, looking for signs of climate change in satellite photos or searching for targets in surveillance imagery.

The problem was that ENVI's sophisticated tools required a lot of training. And as the tools implementing visual analysis have been implemented more broadly, ITT Visual Information Solutions, which makes ENVI, has received many requests from users for enhancements to make ENVI more usable by nonspecialists.

With the new Version 4.6, ITT tries to address those requests by adding workflows in a graphical user interface.

"Our 'aha!' moment on workflows was about four years ago," said Richard Cooke, president of ITT. "We were working with the folks at the National Ground Intelligence Center. They loved ENVI but they were getting a host of young analysts in who didn't have the image science background that ENVI traditionally required. So they asked us to find ways to distill the key processing tasks into workflows that would make it easier for the new analysts but that would not compromise the scientific rigor of the analysis."

The result was a set of predefined workflows called Spear. Refined during the past several years, the Spear workflow concept has been implemented as a modern, single-window GUI. The workflows supported in the new interface include things such as change detection, target detection, feature extraction and anomaly detection.

Cooke said the company intends to expand the number of workflows in upcoming releases. In the next version (4.7), the company promises tighter integration with ArcGIS. More information is available at

About the Authors

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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