A next-generation thermal imager module is more energy-efficient and is physically smaller – enabling more versatile applications
Senop is developing a new generation thermal imager module that could be used in existing night vision products, but additionally in drone applications, smart thermal sights or helmet-mounted thermal monoculars as well. The module and its software are customizable according to the customer’s needs.
One of the ongoing product development projects is the further development of Senop´s thermal imager module. The module measures the infrared radiation emitted naturally by the objects, and with the devices which utilize the module, visibility is achieved even without any external light source.
“We set out to design a new version because technology has evolved, we were ready to take another leap forward. It is now possible to switch from 17 µm pixel size to 12 µm, because detectors of this pixel size already reach almost the same temperature sensitivity as versions with larger pixel sizes,” Senop´s CTO Ph.D. Jussi Rautiainen says.
The new module consumes less power and is physically smaller. It can be installed on significantly smaller devices and even smaller optical solutions can be used with it. Since the raw materials used in the manufacture of optics are valuable, the cost of manufacturing optics for equipment is also reduced.
— There are many new types of applications, for example drone applications are easier to implement, when the module is lighter, and the battery life is longer. The development of small observation and sighting solutions with thermal imaging capabilities is also possible when the module is small and lightweight. Lightness also allows the sights to have better recoil durability than before, Jussi adds.
After completion of the module starts device design
Senop utilizes thermal imaging technology in several products where night vision and target identification from the terrain are required. The current thermal imaging module can be found in target acquisition devices, smart sights, and vehicle camera solutions, among others. The product development of the new module is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 and the development of devices that utilize the next-gen module will start will full pace.
The further development of the module and needs of extensibility are also taken into account in the design work. The software of the module is easy to customize according to the end-user needs. In terms of security of supply and maintenance, maintaining domestic product development expertise and manufacturing of the camera module is important.
— We can manufacture equipment, customize software as well as service the equipment here. We are able to guarantee a long life cycle for the equipment we manufacture for our customers,” Rautiainen says.
New manufacturing methods and materials
The thermal imager module is the core of several Senop night vision devices. At the same time as the module is being developed, the methods of optics manufacturing and the lens materials used in it are also developing rapidly.
— We have strong expertise in thermal imaging, our algorithms are very advanced, and products are competitive alongside the big manufacturers. We have been manufacturing the current camera for 10 years, and its quality is at a very high level. Staying on the crest of development requires hard work,” Rautiainen recalls.
— When the product is completed, a new competitive domestic thermal imager solution will be launched. The smaller and more durable thermal imager module will be utilized in various new night and thermal vision devices.