What’s New in ENVI 5.3

As the geospatial industry continues to evolve, so too does the software. Here’s a look at what’s new in ENVI 5.3, the latest release of the popular image analysis software from Exelis VIS.


  • New data formats and sensors. ENVI 5.3 now provides support to read and display imagery from Deimos-2, DubaiSat-2, Pleiades-HR and Spot mosaic tiles, GeoPackage vectors, Google-formatted SkySat-2, and Sentinel-2.
  • Spectral indices. In addition to the numerous indices already included in ENVI (more than 60), new options include the Normalized Difference Mud Index (NDMI) and Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI).
  • Atmospheric correction. The Quick Atmospheric Correction (QUAC) algorithm has been updated with the latest enhancements from Spectral Sciences, Inc. to help improve algorithm accuracy.
  • Digital elevation model. Users can now download the GMTED2010 DEM (7.5 arc seconds resolution) from the Exelis VIS website for use in improving the accuracy of Image Registration using RPC Orthorectification and Auto Tie Point Generation.
  • Point clouds. If you subscribe to the ENVI Photogrammetry Module (separate license from ENVI), then the Generate Point Clouds by Dense Image Matching tool is now available for generating 3D point clouds from GeoEye-1, IKONOS, Pleiades-1A, QuickBird, Spot-6, WorldView-1,-2 and -3, and the Digital Point Positioning Data Base (DPPDB).
  • LiDAR. The ENVI LiDAR module has been merged with ENVI and can now be launched directly from within the ENVI interface.
  • Geospatial PDF. Your views, including all currently displayed imagery, layers and annotations in those views, can now be exported directly to geospatial PDF files.
  • Spatial subset. When selecting files to add to the workspace, the File Selection tool now includes options to subset files by raster, vector, region of interest or map coordinates.
  • Regrid raster. Users can now regrid raster files to custom defined grids (geographic projection, pixel size, spatial extent and/or number of rows and columns).
  • Programming. The latest ENVI release also includes dozens of new tasks, too numerous to list here, that can be utilized for developing custom user applications in ENVI and ENVI Services Engine.

To learn more about the above features and improvements, as well as many more, read the latest release notes or check out the ENVI help documentation.

ENVI 5.3


HICO Image Gallery – Looking beyond the data

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What’s in an image? Beyond the visual impact, beyond the pixels, and beyond the data, there’s valuable information to be had. It just takes the right tools to extract that information.

With that thought in mind, HySpeed Computing created the HICO Image Processing System to make these tools readily available and thereby put image processing capabilities directly in your hands.

The HICO IPS is a prototype web application for on-demand remote sensing image analysis in the cloud. It’s available through your browser, so it doesn’t require any specialized software, and you don’t have to be a remote sensing expert to use the system.

HICO, the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean, operating on the International Space Station from 2009-2014, is the first space-based imaging spectrometer designed specifically to measure the coastal environment. And research shows that substantial amounts of information can be derived from this imagery.

To commemorate the recent launch of the HICO IPS and celebrate the beauty of our coastal environment, we’ve put together a gallery highlighting some of the stunning images acquired by HICO that are available in the system.

We hope you enjoy the images, and encourage you to explore the HICO IPS web application to try out your own remote sensing analysis.

HICO IPS: Chesapeake Bay Chla

To access the HICO Image Processing System: http://hyspeedgeo.com/HICO/

For more information on HICO: http://hico.coas.oregonstate.edu/

Remote Sensing Analysis in the Cloud – Introducing the HICO Image Processing System

HySpeed Computing is pleased to announce release of the HICO Image Processing System – a prototype web application for on-demand remote sensing image analysis in the cloud.

HICO IPS: Chesapeake Bay Chla

What is the HICO Image Processing System?

The HICO IPS is an interactive web-application that allows users to specify image and algorithm selections, dynamically launch analysis routines in the cloud, and then see results displayed directly in the map interface.

The system capabilities are demonstrated using imagery collected by the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) located on the International Space Station, and example algorithms are included for assessing coastal water quality and other nearshore environmental conditions.

What is needed to run the HICO IPS?

No specialized software is required. You just need an internet connection and a web browser to run the application (we suggest using Google Chrome).

How is this different than online map services?

This is an application-server, not a map-server, so all the results you see are dynamically generated on-demand at your request. It’s remote sensing image analysis in the cloud.

What software was used to create the HICO IPS?

The HICO IPS is a combination of commercial and open-source software; with core image processing performed using the recently released ENVI Services Engine.

What are some of the advantages of this system?

The system can be configured for any number of different remote sensing instruments and applications, thus providing an adaptable framework for rapidly implementing new algorithms and applications, as well as making these applications and their output readily available to the global user community.

Try it out today and let us know what you think: http://hyspeedgeo.com/HICO/


Related posts

Calculating a land/water mask using HICO IPS

Deriving chlorophyll concentration using HICO IPS

Evaluating water optical properties using HICO IPS

Characterizing shallow coastal environments using HICO IPS

A Look at What’s New in ENVI 5.2

Earlier this month Exelis Visual Information Solutions released ENVI 5.2, the latest version of their popular geospatial analysis software.

ENVI 5.2

ENVI 5.2 includes a number of new image processing tools as well as various updates and improvements to current capabilities. We’ve already downloaded our copy and started working with the new features. Here’s a look at what’s included.

A few of the most exciting new additions to ENVI include the Spatiotemporal Analysis tools, Spectral Indices tool, Full Motion Video player, and improved integration with ArcGIS:

  • Spatiotemporal Analysis. Just like the name sounds, this feature provides users the ability to analyze stacks of imagery through space and time. Most notably, tools are now available to build a raster series, where images are ordered sequentially by time, to reproject images from multiple sensors into a common projection and grid size, and to animate and export videos of these raster series.
  • Spectral Indices. Expanding on the capabilities of the previous Vegetation Index Calculator, the new Spectral Indices tool includes 64 different indices, which in addition to analyzing vegetation can also be used to investigate geology, man-made features, burned areas and water. The tool conveniently selects only those indices that can be calculated for a given input image dependent on its spectral characteristics. So when you launch the tool you’ll only see those indices that can be calculated using your imagery.
  • Full Motion Video. ENVI 5.2 now supports video, allowing users to not just play video, but also convert video files to time-enabled raster series and extract individual video frames for analysis using standard ENVI tools. Supported file formats include Skybox SkySat video, Adobe Flash Video and Shockwave Flash, Animated GIF, Apple Quicktime, Audio Video Interleaved, Google WebM Matroska, Matroska Video, Motion JPEG and JPEG2000, MPEG-1 Part 2, MPEG-2 Transport Stream, MPEG-2 Part 2, MPEG-4 Part 12 and MPEG-4 Part 14.
  • Integration with ArcGIS. Originally introduced in ENVI 5.0, additional functionality has been added for ENVI to seamlessly interact with ArcGIS, including the ability to integrate analysis tools and image output layers in a concurrent session of ArcMap. For those working in both software domains, this helps simplify your geospatial workflows and more closely integrate your raster and vector analyses.

Other noteworthy additions in this ENVI release include:

  • New data types. ENVI 5.2 now provides support to read and display imagery from AlSat-2A, Deimos-1, Gaofen-1, Proba-V S10, Proba-V S1, SkySat-1, WorldView-3, Ziyuan-1-02C and Ziyuan-3A, as well as data formats GRIB-1, GRIB-2, Multi-page TIFF and NetCDF-4.
  • NNDiffuse Pan Sharpening. A new pan sharpening tool based on nearest neighbor diffusion has been added, which is multi-threaded for high-performance image processing.
  • Scatter Plot Tool. The previous scatter plot tool has been updated and modernized, allowing users to dynamically switch bands, calculate spectral statistics, interact with ROIs, and generate density slices of the displayed spectral data.
  • Raster Color Slice. This useful tool has also been updated, particularly from a performance perspective, providing dynamic updates in the image display according to parameter changes made in the tool.

For those interested in implementing ENVI in the cloud, the ENVI 5.2 release also marks the release of ENVI Services Engine 5.2 , which is an enterprise version of ENVI that facilitates on-demand, scalable, web-based image processing applications. As an example, HySpeed Computing is currently developing a prototype implementation of ESE for processing hyperspectral imagery from the HICO sensor on the International Space Station. The HICO Image Processing System will soon be publically available for testing and evaluation by the community. A link to access the system will be provided on our website once it is released.


To learn about the above features, and many more not listed here, see the video from Exelis VIS and/or read the latest release notes on ENVI 5.2.

We’re excited to put the new tools to work. How about you?

Geospatial Learning Resources – An overview of the 2013 ENVI Rapid Learning Series

ENVI Rapid Learning SeriesHave you downloaded, or upgraded to, the latest version of ENVI? Are you just learning the new interface, or already a seasoned expert? No matter your experience level, if you’re an ENVI user then it’s worth viewing the ENVI Rapid Learning Series.

This series is a collection of short 30-minute webinars that address different technical aspects and application tips for using ENVI. Originally hosted live in the fall of 2013, the webinars are now available online to view at your convenience:

  • ENVI and ArcGIS Interoperability Tips “Learn best practices and tips for using ENVI to extract information from your imagery. Get new information, ask questions, become a better analyst.” (recorded 10/16/13)
  • Using NITF Data in ENVI “Learn best practices and tips for using NITF data with ENVI to extract information from your imagery. Get new information, ask questions, become a better analyst.” (recorded 10/23/13)
  • Image Transformations in ENVI “Join Tony Wolf as he explores how image transformations can provide unique insight into your data in ENVI. Learn how to use the display capabilities of ENVI to visually detect differences between image bands and help identify materials on the ground.” (recorded 10/30/13)
  • Working with Landsat 8 Data in ENVI “Learn how to use Landsat 8 cirrus band, quality assurance band, and thermal channels in ENVI for classification, NDVI studies, and much more.” (recorded 11/6/13)
  • Using NPP VIIRS Imagery in ENVI “Join Thomas Harris as he explores the newly developed support for NPP VIIRS in ENVI. By opening a dataset as an NPP VIIRS file type, the user is presented with an intuitive interface that makes visualizing the data and correcting the ‘bowtie’ effect a snap.” (recorded 11/13/13)
  • Georeference, Image Registration, Orthorectification “This webinar looks at how to geometrically correct data in ENVI for improved accuracy and analysis results. Join the ENVI team as we demo georeferencing, image registration, and orthorectification capabilities and answer questions from attendees.” (recorded 11/20/13)
  • An Introduction to ENVI LiDAR “This webinar takes a quick look at the ENVI LiDAR interface and demonstrates how to easily transform geo-referenced point-cloud LiDAR data into useful geographic information system (GIS) layers. ENVI LiDAR can automatically extract Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), Digital Surface Models (DSMs), contour lines, buildings, trees, and power lines from your raw point-cloud LiDAR data. This information can be exported in multiple formats and to 3D visual databases.” (recorded 11/27/13)
  • IDL for the Non-Programmer “This webinar highlights some of the tools available to ENVI and IDL users, which allow them to analyze data and extend ENVI. Learn where to access code snippets, detailed explanations of parameters, and demo data that comes with the ENVI + IDL install.” (recorded 12/4/13)
  • ENVI Services Engine: What is it? “This webinar takes a very basic look at ENVI capabilities at the server level. It shows diagrams depicting how web based analysis works, and shows some examples of JavaScript clients calling the ENVI Services Engine. Benefits of this type of technology include developing apps or web based clients to run analysis, running batch analysis on multiple datasets, and integrating ENVI image analysis into the Esri platform.” (recorded 12/11/13)
  • Atmospheric Correction “This webinar looks at the different types of Atmospheric Correction tools available in ENVI. It starts with a look at what Atmospheric Correction is used for, and when you and don’t need to apply it. Finally it gives a live look at QUAC and FLAASH and how to configure these tools to get the best information from your data.” (recorded 12/18/13)

To access the ENVI webinars: http://www.exelisvis.com/Learn/EventsTraining/Webinars.aspx

A Look at What’s New in ENVI 5.1

ENVI 5.1(16-Dec-2013) Today Exelis Visual Information Solutions released ENVI 5.1, the latest version of their popular geospatial analysis software.

We’ve already downloaded and installed our copy, so read below if you want to be one of the first to learn about the new features. Or better yet, if you or your organization are current with the ENVI maintenance program, you too can download the new version and start using it yourself today.

Below are a few highlights of the new features in ENVI 5.1:

  • Region of Interest (ROI) Tool. Previously only accessible in ENVI Classic, users can now define and manage ROIs in the new interface. This includes the ability to manually draw ROIs, generate ROIs from band thresholds, grow existing ROIs, and create multi-part ROIs. Additionally, ROIs are now stored as georeferenced features, which means they can be easily ported between images.
  • Seamless Mosaic Workflow. The Georeferenced Mosaicking tool has been replaced with the new Seamless Mosaic Workflow. This tool allows user to create high quality seamless mosaics by combing multiple georeferenced scenes. Included is the ability to create and edit seamlines, perform edge feathering and color correction, and export finished mosaics to ENVI or TIFF formats.  Also included are tutorials and tutorial data to learn the simple and advanced features of this workflow.
  • Spectral Data. Both the Spectral Profile and Spectral Library viewers include improvements for visualizing and analyzing spectral data. The software also includes updated versions of four key spectral libraries: ASTER Spectral Library Version 2, U.S. Geological Survey Digital Spectral Library 06, Johns Hopkins University Spectral Library, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Spectral Library.
  • Additional Data Types. ENVI 5.1 can now open generic HDF5 files, which includes data distributed from sensors like NPP VIIRS, SSOT, ResourceSat-2, and HICO. Additional data types and file formats also now supported include ECRG, GeoEye-1 in DigitalGlobe format, Goktuk-2, KOMPSAT-3, NigeriaSat-1 and -2, RASAT, and others.
  • Added Landsat 8 Support. Various improvements have been included for the handling of Landsat 8 data, such as automatically reading the thermal infrared coefficients from the associated metadata, including the Quality and Cirrus Cloud bands in the Data and Layer Managers, correcting reflectance gains and offsets for solar elevation, and updating FLAASH to process Landsat 8 imagery.

These and other welcome improvements continue to expand the capabilities of ENVI, and we’re excited to start working with the new features.

For more on ENVI: http://www.exelisvis.com/

Remote Sensing in the Cloud – Introducing the ENVI Services Engine

remote sensing in the cloudA popular topic these days is cloud computing. And the world of remote sensing is no exception. New developments in software, hardware, and connectivity are offering innovative options for performing remote sensing image analysis and visualization tasks in the cloud.

One example of the recent advance in cloud computing capabilities for geospatial scientists is the development of the ENVI Services Engine by Exelis Visual Information Solutions (Exelis VIS). Using what was previously the domain of desktop computing – this software engine brings the image analysis tools of ENVI into the cloud. This translates into an ability to deploy ENVI processing tools, such as image classification, anomaly detection and change detection, into an online environment. Additionally, because the system uses a HTTP REST interface and was constructed utilizing open source standards, implementing the software is feasible across a variety of operating systems and different hardware devices.

This flexibility of the ENVI Services Engine, and cloud computing in general, speaks directly to the “bring your own device” movement. Rather than being limited to certain operating systems or certain types of hardware, users have many more options to satisfy their preferences. Access and processing thus becomes feasible from a variety of tablets, mobile phones and laptops, in addition to the usual array of desktops and workstations.

As an example, consider the ability to access imagery and derived data layers from your favorite mobile device. Now consider being able to adjust your analysis on-the-fly from this same device based on observations while in the field. With the image processing being tasks handled on remote servers, extensive computing capacity is no longer required on your local device. This enables not just remote access to image processing, but also the ability for on-demand visualization and display of entire databases full of different images and results.

Having the image processing tasks performed on the same servers, or on servers closer to, where the imagery is stored is also more computationally efficient, since imagery does not need to be first transferred to local computers and results then transferred back to the servers. This is particularly relevant for large data archives, where even simple changes to existing algorithms, or the addition of new algorithms, may necessitate re-processing vast volumes of data.

Although the concept of cloud computing is not new, it has become apparent that the software and hardware landscape has evolved, making cloud computing for geospatial analysis significantly more attractive than ever before.

Attendees of the VISualize conference earlier this year received a sneak-peek at the ENVI Services Engine. The software was also recently on display at the GEOINT conference this past October. However, official release of the software isn’t scheduled until early 2013. For more information: http://www.exelisvis.com/

GPU Geospatial Algorithm Acceleration – Getting started with software

HySpeed Computing looks at the technology behind GPU computing.

Geospatial technology and imagery are now pervasive in our society. From the GPS device on your car’s dashboard and your local weather report to national maps of drought conditions and global analysis of the earth’s environment, geospatial data is playing an increasingly central role in our lives. As the importance and availability of geospatial data continues to grow, so too does the need to process greater volumes of data at faster rates to provide output in a timely manner. The result is an accompanying need for increased utilization of high-performance computing to meet these processing demands, an area where GPU computing is certain to play a significant role.

So you have some data – in fact you have a hard-drive filled to its storage capacity with more imagery than your computer can seemingly process in a year – and you can’t wait that long to get results. Let’s look at some example software options of how you can start using GPU computing to accelerate your image processing workflow.

One option is to utilize commercial software packages that inherently employ GPU processing as part of their architecture. For example, in the field of graphic design, Adobe Photoshop versions CS4 and later use GPU computing to speedup certain functions. An equivalent in the geospatial field is the GXL GeoImaging Accelerator (PCI Geomatics), which provides GPU-enabled acceleration for applications such as orthorectification, image mosaic creation, and pan-sharpening. However, widespread integration of GPU capabilities in commercial geospatial software is not yet fully realized, and thus many algorithms and processing options still await acceleration.

As an alternative, users can select to employ a high-level programming language to generate their own applications. For example, GPULib (Tech-X) provides a library of GPU-accelerated IDL functions that can be used to customize ENVI (Exelis VIS). Note that IDL is the language on which ENVI is built and also the foundation for developers to create custom modules that integrate directly with ENVI. Similarly, the Parallel Computing Toolbox (Mathworks), as well as Jacket (AccelerEyes), can be used to speedup MATLAB code. Although not explicitly considered a geospatial software tool, MATLAB (MathWorks) has extensive capabilities in scientific computing, including modules designed specifically for image processing and mapping.

For the experienced programmer, there is the option to go directly to the source and develop specialized software using one of the two dominant parallel computing architectures available for GPU development: CUDA and OpenCL. CUDA was developed by NVIDIA explicitly for leveraging the compute capabilities of NVIDIA GPU cards, whereas OpenCL is an open framework that can be used for both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs. Both are excellent choices for developing custom GPU software, but both also require a reasonable level of comfort with programming as well as an understanding of GPU nuances to get the most out of the acceleration potential.

Essentially, we’re still at the growth end of the GPU curve, but the field is progressing rapidly and GPU computing is quickly gaining momentum. It is going to be exciting to see how this field evolves.

ENVI Gets a New Look

Dr. James Goodman participated in the ENVI 5.0 Beta Program, and is now providing a look at the latest offering from Exelis Visual Information Solutions.

In early May, Exelis VIS announced its latest release – ENVI 5.0. Many years in the making, ENVI 5.0 provides a new look and expanded functionalities over previous versions of the popular remote sensing software. Let’s take a look.

The most apparent difference comes when you launch the new software. The interface has been completely redesigned. No longer do you see the menu bar and floating three-window image interface, but now everything is contained in a single window. The top of the window provides access to commonly used functions, such as zoom, stretch and pan, via icons and slider bars. The left of the main window displays the Layer Manager, which is similar to working with layers in ArcGIS, allowing you to easily open multiple views, stack layers in views, and turn layer displays on and off. The right side of the window contains the Toolbox, which is an expandable/collapsible directory of all the functions that were previously contained in the classic menu bar. And finally, there is the large center display of the window, which can be used to display up to 16 different independent views.

The question is: What’s under the hood? Aside from the interface, what are the improvements that can make a difference in the way you work with imagery? ENVI 5.0 now uses raster pyramids to enable significantly faster image display, particularly useful when working with large images. The pyramids are built the first time the image is opened, and from then on the pyramid files are accessed each time the image is re-opened. Additional improvements have been added to accelerate vector display, add interactive navigation tools such as pan, fly and zoom, and incorporate interactive enhancements such as brightness, contrast and stretch. The software also now harnesses the functionality of the ESRI Projection Engine to directly reproject georeferenced images. The end result of these improvements is that ENVI 5.0 provides many new additions to enable users to more efficiently visualize and analyze imagery.

Having trouble finding your way around the new interface? The folks at Exelis VIS have created a new set of tutorials to walk you through the process of getting re-oriented. Still not comfortable with the new interface, then rest assured you can still launch the three-window “ENVI Classic” (instructions are provided under ENVI Help Article 5421). But there are lots of advantages to working with the new interface. It’s definitely worth exploring.

ENVI 5.0 Screenshot

Screenshot of the new ENVI 5.0 interface.