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QIOPTIQ WITH ANY EYE TO THE FUTURE

25 May 11. Every year Qioptiq continue to push forward and challenge technical boundaries with new equipment offerings. New products released in 2011 will serve to provide our customers with greater flexibility, options and mission objective realisation once again confirming Qioptiq as the premier photonics provider. The need to address the important aspect of weight and burden reduction as well as satisfying the varying requirements of the modern warfighter by providing the most appropriate size, weight & power combination are paramount. However, looking beyond 2011, with an eye to future, advancements in technologies offer some intriguing possibilities such as Image Fusion and Wavefront coding. Computational imaging techniques, of which wavefront coding is a specific example, combine novel optical design with digital electronics processing. Such techniques enable new sensors to be developed with improvements in performance, mass, size and cost. This can produce a sensor with significantly enhanced depth-of-focus compared with conventional optical solutions and can remove the need for a focus mechanism. However, it can also be implemented to provide other advantages, such as reduced number of lens elements, improved performance over an extended temperature range or a reduction in the sensitivity to manufacturing tolerances.

Fusion-vision

Multisensor Image fusion is the process of combining pertinent information from two or more images into a single image. The resulting image will be more informative than any of the single input images currently available. Image intensified tubes and Thermal imagers can greatly enhance the soldier’s ability to monitor and operate in all surroundings and environments at night. In many situations, a single sensor is not sufficient to provide an accurate perception of the real world; this can be for a number of reasons. While the Image Intensifier still has its place on the battlefield due to its low cost, low power consumption and its excellent identification properties on a clear night. There are occasions when performance may falter, for instance individuals can become dazzled and disoriented when systems fail to react fast enough to exposure to bright lights, atmospherics or other obscurants this can cause performance issues that render the sight virtually inoperable. The thermal imager has the ability to detect a man far outside those effective ranges of an assault rifle and have proved invaluable in recent conflicts.

Its ability to see through battlefield obscurants and operate in total darkness as well as the often overlooked day time capability has made the uncooled thermal weapon sight a piece of equipment that has become common place in the 24 hour modern infantry section. Due to developments in a number of “feeder technologies”, including sensors, materials and electronic processing, the sensor fusion debate is now steaming ahead and Qioptiq are engaged in a number of projects and developments aimed at bringing Fused Sighting Solutions to the Dismounted Close Combat User. Qioptiq have already delivered prototypes and pre production units for testing & trials. Qioptiq has engaged with various military research establishments to seek out the requirements of the Infantry and understand the best sensor fusion technologies at the right Size Weight and Power forms that will enhance the operational performance and avoid capability overmatch at a cost acceptable to the customer. The initial reports from Users are very encouraging, the ability to detect and recognize in all weathers and environments gives a true night vision capability with the added ability to operate thermal channel during the day. Over the next 12 months Qioptiq will be integrating with Users to understand the tradeoffs, MMI (Man Machine Interface) and training burden to ensure that the right balance is struck. As with all technology based capability developments, the aim is now to refine the system capability

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