A handout image from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). On Tuesday, the agency announced the launch of the Innovation House Study program to bring in "trailblazers" to work on new ways to improve visual and geospatial analysis. (DARPA)

It’s probably even more interesting when that room is being supplied by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) — one of the most secretive places on the planet — and the mission is to create a computer program that can identify just about anything.

The above quote is from Michael Geertsen, program manager at DARPA and it was delivered in a press release Tuesday announcing that DARPA is seeking “trailblazers to explore the unknown in the areas of visual and geospatial data analysis.”

In laymans terms: How to identify anything that can be displayed in an image or video.

“We are inviting a new generation of innovators to try out ideas in an environment that encourages diverse solutions and far-out thinking. If this model proves to be as successful as we believe it could be, it represents a new means for participating in Government-sponsored research projects,” continued Geersten via the release.

The project, called Innovation House Study, is being conducted in partnership with George Mason University in Arlington, and is an eight-week intensive for “radical innovation.” As many as eight teams will be given access to a “residential research environment” to figure out how to identify people, places and even activities from both stills and videos made available via either open source or the Defense Department. Each team will get $50,000 in funding.

Teams will get access to unclassified data sets and facilities as well as mentors from both the government and academia. The project will also be split into two four-week phases, with second phase funding dependent on success with the first phase assignment — specifically, teams must “produce an initial design and demonstrate in software the crucial capabilities that validate their approach.” In phase two, teams are expected to, essentially, demo a proof-of-concept software configuration. The project, however, is meant to be collaborative — not competitive.

Interested? Team proposals are due July 31.

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