Law enforcement officials contacted a Poly professor and his graduate students in 2005, hoping to learn more about their groundbreaking research in data recovery. The professor was Department of Computer Science and Engineering's Nasir Memon, a noted expert in multimedia forensics and security and director of Poly's Information Systems and Internet Security Lab. Under his guidance, two grad students devised a new, more powerful approach to recovering fragmented or corrupted computer files, a big problem in criminal forensic investigations, where critical evidence, such as JPEG photos of suspects or evidence of drug trafficking or terrorism, have often been erased. Research by the team soon won a prestigious award from the leading digital forensics association and garnered several years of funding from the National Science Foundation and the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation.
Law enforcement interest in the students’ work turned out to be so keen, the team realized they had a startup company in the making. They hired three more students and founded Digital Assembly in 2006. Two more part-time Poly students have since joined the company.
Digital Assembly today resides in a business incubator in Manhattan, and from its Website, digital-assembly.com, sells two pro- ducts: Adroit Photo Forensics, a professional app for law enforcement, and a consumer program, Adroit Photo Recovery. Both use advanced algorithms to achieve the digital equivalent of unscrambling hundreds or thousands of jigsaw puzzles mixed together, building from the pieces a single, correct image. The algorithms can rescue files regardless of the operating system, and learn to detect faces of children, or nudity, or other features indicating criminal activity. “Combating child porn is a big focus,” explains Pasha Pal, the current CEO.
Digital Assembly has been featured in The New York Times, PC World and ABC News. While they have not sought venture capital or outside funding yet, Digital Assembly signed a new collaborative R&D agreement in mid-2010, with the Department of Defense’s Defense Cyber Crime Institute.