Use of the technique of thermal imaging is growing fast in many fields of activity and particularly in that of medical imaging, for therapeutic and preventive applications...
June 14, 2021 . 2min read
Infrared technology provides military personnel and rescue teams with systems for intelligent detection and localizing threats that speed up decision-making and get positive results more quickly.
Long-range visible and thermal solutions aim to help ground troops move and act more freely during operations, while combining safety and efficiency as best they can. The trend is for increasing comfort of use while optimizing detection, reconnaissance, and identification capabilities both day and night.
These are the infrared developments to watch on the thermal defense market in 2021.
Artificial Intelligence as an innovation factor
The revolution and evolutions that artificial intelligence has brought about are well established. In both civilian and military settings, algorithms and AI provide additional information and represent an added value that is even more pronounced in the military arena.
Market Forecast conducted a study on the subject, analyzing the impacts of AI in the defense sector, looking at the benefits for armies and how work is carried out by manufacturers. The report, entitled Artificial Intelligence will arm defense contractors for global growth, highlights how governments have turned to this new technology to enhance their military capabilities.
When AI is used in conjunction with thermal sensors, it can do more than just detect a presence - it can actually help soldiers understand the scene that is unfolding. An image produced by thermal imaging can be passed through the filter of artificial intelligence, which can analyze, adapt, weigh up alternative solutions, and develop new strategies. This principle is applied today when equipping infantry, base camps, and vehicles.
Infrared on a large scale
A reduced pitch combined with improved readout circuit technology results in a high-definition image. The quality of the image produced by an infrared sensor depends on the number of pixels and its spatial resolution: the higher the number of pixels, the better the quality of the image.
The current trend in developing MWIR cooled infrared sensors for military use is for designing smaller pixels (≤10µm) in a large format (> VGA) and with a higher operating temperature (>150 K), but without affecting the quality of the image.
This constant striving to improve performance aligns with the defense sector’s needs regarding all military applications relating to night vision, designing binoculars, drones, armored equipment, etc. This notion is also central to the Infantry of the Future program, with, for example, shooting glasses with infrared sensors.
SWaP products: where miniaturization meets performance
Almost every new development, whether embedded, airborne or land-based, carried by military personnel or handheld, shares the same requirement: the need to reduce the size, weight, and amount of available resources used to further contribute to the overall functionality of the system.
SWaP stands for Size, Weight and Power. When it comes to military applications, this constant striving for optimization is even more of a priority. Soldiers need increasingly lightweight and compact equipment without compromising on performance.
Infrared sensors integrated into military equipment must meet these criteria to improve soldiers’ mobility and efficacy.
Lately, this effort to reduce SWaP has increasingly seemed to be the main deciding factor, leading to some tough compromises on improvements to the performance of the system and multifunctional structures.
Note: the line between cooled and uncooled technologies tends to become blurred as technical performance improves. Whereas in the past some applications were only compatible with cooled products, microbolometers now offer an alternative that is attractive from both a technical and budgetary standpoint.
The military infrared market represents nearly 60% of the value of the total market. It is a growing market with big players in North America and Asia. Infrared technology is one of the keys to successfully saving lives and protecting troops during military operations.
An advanced collaboration between man and machine is essential if we are to win the battles of today and tomorrow.