SwiftLook as a Sonobuoy Data Analysis and Quick-Viewing Tool

Innovative Solutions, Announcements
Sonobuoy, acoustics, Navy, MATLAB, sonaor processing

RDA, a subsidiary of SDI that specializes in acoustical engineering services, has crafted SwiftLook to encapsulate over 20 years of acoustic data analysis experience into a library of sonobuoy parameters.  It was designed to ease the operational load of sonobuoy technicians while also ensuring consistent and reliable sonobuoy data analysis. With real-time capabilities, SwiftLook allows operators to view and categorize results as soon as the data is recorded. As part of their strategic vision, RDA envisions SwiftLook as the go-to LCAP file analysis tool, poised to become the industry standard for rapid sonobuoy data processing.  Eventually, its capabilities will be licensed to fellow contractors and companies who are likewise involved in innovative sonobuoy analysis capabilities.

Working as a Sonobuoy Analysis Tool

As underwater acoustic sensors, sonobuoys are designed to examine and report back on the aquatic environment. Signals detected by passive, active, and special purpose sonobuoys are relayed from the buoy to awaiting signal receivers via radio signals. Signal processors onboard aircraft, ships, and other platforms then analyze the sonobuoy data to enhance anomalous object detection, classification, and location. Previous methods of sonobuoy recording and monitoring were updated through LCAP, RDA’s innovative sonobuoy test, development and evaluation platform.

Working as an LCAP analysis tool, SwiftLook takes in the data received by LCAP and utilizes RDA’s library of signal processing products and sonobuoy analysis tools.  This product packages over two decades of processing tools and signal analysis scripts in an accessible format for sonobuoy technicians.

SwiftLook, as an interactive MATLAB GUI-based tool, enables operators to analyze sonobuoy datasets against selected parameters and view the basic information of each sonobuoy data file. As an experienced back-end developer, RDA’s goal was to incorporate backend readers that compile multiple data streams into one front-end visual display, similar to those seen on an aircraft platform.

Marine navigation officer looking at navigation systems.


Various factors can lead to differing data points and various outcomes. For example, multiple parties using different recording equipment or inexperienced technicians overlooking key elements or points of interest can contribute to potential confusion and inefficient resource usage. Consistently providing identical data points not only ensures uniform analysis, but also lessens the workload for recording technicians.

RDA recognized the necessity for better version control and software management over the many MATLAB tools. By consolidating various buoy modes, passive & active sonar processing techniques, and modelling tools, RDA brought in the MATLAB system architecture under a centralized platform. Engineers utilize GIT, a control system designed to track and monitor changes in any set of computer files, and a shared storage location to ensure file availability to every member of the team.

This redesign meant a significant rework of preexisting analysis routines but ensured the efficiency of employees in advancing capabilities rather than simply reinventing known solutions. Ultimately, RDA developed SwiftLook to simplify access to their MATLAB toolset and provide a distributable means of delivering its capabilities to customers.

Overview of Key Features

SwiftLook stands out as a powerful tool meant for the organization and visualization of sonobuoy data. Among its capabilities, users can:

  • Sort data according to parameters
  • Track and view acquired test data on a timeline
  • Monitor a buoy’s real-time bearing and location
  • Process and plot collected data from files to visualize various properties
  • Customize preferences for data reading and processing

Additionally, SwiftLook can read and display multiple points of data from various sonobuoys, which can then be filtered down with parameter sets.

SwiftLook’s backend analysis routines are developed and maintained in-house and can be quickly updated to allow for the latest improvements.  With real-time capabilities, an operator can view results as soon as LCAP records the data. SwiftLook’s architecture allows both breakout modules and integration of previously standalone analysis routines.

SwiftLook can be utilized in lab environments, data validation projects, acceptance testing lots, and other similar platforms for quick and accurate test data collection. The modular product is fully developed in-house with standard configuration managing, including a user’s guide.  With SwiftLook,  RDA engineers can quickly address and build additions according to customer specifications.

Future Usage

RDA plans for this software to become the primary LCAP analysis tool and as the default program for quick-view sonobuoy data analysis. Given its versatility, SwiftLook can be used across various scenarios, including as a resource in test planning, a validation tool in bench testing, and support in production settings. Ultimately, RDA envisions licensing SwiftLook to other contractors and companies that are likewise interested in sonobuoy analysis.

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Acquired by Sentient Digital in 2021, RDA, Inc. focuses on systems engineering and digital signal processing (DSP) for sonar systems. We have continuously and successfully delivered outstanding technical leadership in engineering services to our customers who work in the sonar acoustic processing domain.

Learn more about RDA’s Advanced Technologies and Innovation business unit to get a fuller understanding of RDA’s work and contact us to find out how our team can evaluate your needs and provide customized services by applying innovative technology!