From the eighties on, François Louange and his team have developed, for the French Defense, the concept of CAPI (Computer-Aided Photo-Interpretation), in view of exploiting images from remote-sensing satellites, both civilian (SPOT) and military (HELIOS). The problem was to enable intelligence photo-interpreters, highly specialized in analyzing the content of data, but not necessarily trained in computer science nor in signal processing, to make the best use of large images provided by those new satellites, while ignoring as much as possible technical constraints. In particular, availability at any time of various toolkits coming under different technical domains (image processing, graphical editing, interactive mensuration, automatic exploitation of metadata associated with images) had to be guaranteed, as opposed to the previous situation where, as in a laboratory, one had to be permanently juggling with different software environments, under the close control of specialized engineers.
This CAPI technique has evolved, within the OCAPI software (Operational Computer-Aided Photo-Interpretation). During a preliminary period, this tool had been designed and developed in close co-operation with all associated bodies of the French Defense, in the frame of the CEPIA experimental center in Arcueil. Then, in the industrial frame of the FLEXIMAGE company, OCAPI became fully operational, equipped all French image intelligence services during many years, and continued developing for the benefit of several services in France and abroad.
Even though their research environments and their goals did not seem to have anything in common in principle, it appeared, a few years ago, that the investigative modalities of both « alleged ufo picture analysis » and « intelligence from images of the Earth seen from above » had many similarities, particularly concerning the software architecture required to produce an appropriate tool. Indeed, in both cases, one finds the same need for an interactive tool that enables easy manipulation and processing of images, production and management of associated graphical drawings, mensuration, exploitation in a transparent way for the user of metadata associated with images. François Louange, naturally standing at the crossroads of those two disciplines, was in a position to negotiate, on the one hand with the EADS/Cassidian company, today Airbus Defence & Space (which, after having incorporated in 2007 its subsidiary FLEXIMAGE, is the owner of OCAPI), and on the other with CNES/GEIPAN (for which he works as a consultant), legal clauses allowing him to reuse part of the source code of the OCAPI software to develop the new IPACO software.
The first major release of IPACO, providing analysis of photo documents, was installed at GEIPAN in June 2010; the second one, including a video part, in May 2011.