In an effort to stay out of highly competitive commercial markets some microbolometer suppliers are staying out of the mid-format (320 x 240) small pixel (10-12 µm) market.
The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show displayed a push by suppliers of thermal imaging systems to have their technology included in self-driving cars.
Awards for the sensor development portion of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program have been made by the Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD).
FLIR Systems, which has long concentrated on its mature InSb FPA technology has been internally developing Type 2 Superlattice (T2SL) FPAs for use in future products.The company, which has been part of the VISTA consortium, is making use of the InAs/GaSb epitaxial structures that have been developed by JPL and NRL under the VISTA program and grown by IntelliEPI and IQE. It is expected that the company will soon introduce a camera core based on a HOT MWIR 640 x 512 FPA with 15 micron pixels.
FLIR Systems is launching a new line of infrared cameras for perimeter security that make maximum use of its highly integrated Lepton thermal cores. The Saros line is intended to provide minimum false alarms and the maximum in ease of installation for installers with no lens options to worry about.
Saros includes multiple FLIR Lepton® thermal sensors (160 x 120/12) with images stitched together, one or more 1080p or 4K cameras, IR and visible LED illuminators, advanced onboard analytics, two-way audio, and digital input/output.
Autoliv (Stockholm, Sweden) is spinning off its Electronics business to the new company Veoneer, Inc.
A Proposed New Radiometric Unit
Combining SCBA with Thermal Imaging
FLIR Systems first quarter 2016 revenue was up by 10% but net income was $0.01 per diluted share compared to $0.34 last year.
FLIR Systems is launching its Boson™ cores - 12 µm pitch, wafer-level-packaged (WLP) VOx microbolometer arrays with 320 x 256 and 640 x 512 formats - that provide new levels of performance in tiny packages.
Seek Thermal (Goleta, California) is ready to go into production with a new uncooled core based on Wafer-Level-Packaged (WLP) 320 x 240 VOx microbolometers with 12 micron pixels, a significant upgrade over the company’s existing 206 x 156/12 microbolometers.
The U.S. Patent Office has ruled in favor of FLIR Systems in a patent infringement suit in which Leak Surveys (Early, Texas) claimed that FLIR’s gas finder (GasFindIR) cameras infringed on their patents.
However, Leak Surveys is now appealing that decision in Federal Appeals Court.
Avon Rubber plc (UK) has acquired the “Argus” thermal imaging fire fighting business of E2V Technologies (Chelmsford, Essex, UK) for £3.5 million in cash ($5.4 million).
The company’s Avon Protection unit, which also makes SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), has had a small presence in the fire thermal imaging market with its nvision XTP, a thermal imager based on a 320 x 240 amorphous silicon microbolometer made by L-3 Infrared Products.
The presence of uncooled infrared technology in China started more than 13 years ago when Ulis began to supply uncooled amorphous silicon (a-Si) microbolometers to companies such as SATIR, Guide Infrared and Dali.
Since then, FLIR Systems has also supplied VOx uncooled modules, but with strict export restrictions on array size and frame rate.
The success of uncooled detector technology developed in the west caused Chinese companies to undertake major development programs to initiate a domestic supply of both a-Si and VOx microbolometers.
The current status of these developments is summarized here.
FLIR One Smartphone Imager Discourages One Competitor
Ultra Low-Cost Thermal Core and Smartphone Attachment
Jockeying for Space at the Low-End
FLIR vs. Fluke
Northrop Grumman is Back in the Game
Autoliv Tests its New Thermal and Near-Infrared Fusion System
Integrating a Diversified Portfolio of Technologies
Infrared Cameras for Building Inspection
Northrop Grumman’s Litening G4 Jumps Ahead
Adds Image Intensified Systems and Fused IR/I2 Systems to its Portfolio of Products
Smaller Pixels and Larger Formats
Selects FLIR Systems to Provide Infrared Systems – with potential for much more
Their Effect on Infrared
Introduces New Low-End Thermography Camera
Market Separates into High and Low Ends
Increases Product Offerings
The Strategy Behind the Move
Sensor Systems in Limbo
Candidates for STUAS Payload Line Up
FLIR Systems has lost a lawsuit against two former Indigo Systems executives whom it claimed were misappropriating trade secrets and against whom FLIR was seeking a permanent injunction to prevent them from starting a new venture to produce uncooled microbolometers.
Competition in low-end thermography cameras is heating up. FLIR Systems’ latest introduction, the i5 camera, pushes prices below $3K—a level unheard of just a few years ago.
Although infrared automotive night vision systems are usually supplied as a factory-installed option, an aftermarket is developing…
FLIR Systems has completed the acquisition of 69.3% of the shares (at 19 euros per share or a total of 42.3 million euros) of Cedip Infrared Systems after obtaining approval from the French Ministry of Finance and Economy. FLIR Systems Holdings SAS, the company’s French subsidiary will now proceed to acquire the remaining shares of Cedip for the same 19 euro price.
A new generation of Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) for aircraft is close to being certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Kollsman’s EVS II, an enhanced version of its original EVS, makes use of SCD’s 320 x240 InSb FPA on a Blue Fairy read-out and provides 30% increase in sensitivity.
Autoliv is preparing to introduce its new Night Vision 2 system to aid drivers of passenger cars when driving at night. The new system will offer significant new capabilities while simultaneously lowering the cost to automakers.
FLIR Systems has entered into an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in Cedip Infrared Systems in a deal that values the French company at 62.7 million euros (approximately $86.4 million).
Northrop Grumman is preparing its latest Litening AT targeting pod for flight tests in November. The new Litening AT (currently called 4th Gen Litening) makes use of a 1024 x 1024 InSb FPA (18 µm pixels) detector module (made by FLIR/Indigo), a 1024 x 1024 CCD visible sensor, a new dual-band laser designator and range finder, laser spot tracker and infrared laser marker.
Amateur-built aircraft in the U.S. are giving a lift to a new class of low-end Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) for use by the pilots of these planes when flying at night or in reduced visibility. This growth is being driven by the fact that under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regulations, no certification is required to use an EVS on amateur-built “experimental” aircraft.
Qioptiq is now in the process of shipping 450 VIPIR-2 thermal weapon sights to the Australian Army. The sights will be used in Australia’s future soldier system, called the LAND125 Soldier Enhancement Programme.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s SBInet sensor network on the Mexican border went into operation along a 28 mile stretch southwest of Tucson. The first section of the “virtual fence” consists of nine 98 foot towers with visible and infrared cameras that send images to a command center and to specially equipped Border Patrol vehicles.
FLIR Commercial Vision Systems is introducing the latest in its line of thermal imaging systems for marine use. The company’s Navigator™ is now available in three configurations: fixed, 360º pan, or full pan/tilt.
Lockheed Martin is introducing a new pilotage sensor for cargo and utility aircraft. The sensor was recently demonstrated on a UH-1 helicopter at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
After a thorough evaluation of both passive thermal and active near infrared (NIR) automotive night vision systems, German luxury car maker BMW has decided to stay with thermal imaging (called “FIR” or “Far Infrared” in the automotive industry).
FLIR Systems has reached an agreement with AMI Semiconductor in which AMIS will be the foundry for the production of FLIR’s uncooled VOx microbolometers. The microbolometers will be produced in AMIS’ Class 1 facility on 8” wafers.
CMC Electronics has shipped its 100th EVS (Enhanced Vision System) for aircraft. Most of these are the SureSight® I-Series.
Siemens Building Technologies has signed an agreement to acquire VistaScape Security Systems as a wholly owned subsidiary.
FLIR Systems’ new robot is now up and running at the company’s Danderyd, Sweden facility. The robot is intended to automate the labor intensive and time-consuming testing and calibration of FLIR’s new line of low-cost InfraCAM cameras.
FLIR Systems has been selected by Bell Helicopter Textron to supply the EO system for the Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH). FLIR will supply the BRITE Star II® airborne stabilized multi-sensor system (640 x 480 InSb) as the Target Acquisition Sensor Suite (TASS) for ARH.
FLIR Systems has re-organized its Imaging business into two separate Divisions: a commercial imaging division and a government imaging division. The company also plans to invest $15 million to significantly increase the capacity of its uncooled VOx microbolometer production facility in Santa Barbara.
The introduction of infrared cameras at aggressive low price points are pushing infrared imaging into new markets and applications. Three manufacturers have recently introduced such cameras, two of them after extensive test marketing during 2005.
A New Market for SWIR Cameras
Researchers from the Army Research Laboratory, ARL are teaming with BAE Systems under the Advanced Sensor Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) program to make mid-wave Type II Superlattice (T2SL) focal plane arrays. The semiconductor layers (InAs on a GaSb substrate) were grown by ARL and the FPA processing and hybridization to an Indigo ISC9809 read-out IC (ROIC) were carried out at BAE Systems.