French commandos with a head-up display and GPS on their helmet

PARIS, ($1=0.89 Euros) – In October, the Pentagon put to sleep the $ 22 billion contract it had awarded to Microsoft to develop and deliver a militarized version of the augmented reality goggles “Hololens”, as part of the IVAS [Integrated Visual Augmentation program. System].

To summarize in broad outline, it was a question of allowing the American soldiers to have access to tactical information in real-time, thanks to a technology based on the system called “Head-up Vision” [or HUD for Head-up Display], used in aviation for over forty years. One of the reasons given by the Pentagon to justify its decision was that the tests carried out by the special forces had highlighted the lack of ruggedness of this Hololens helmet.

Already presented at the last SOFINS exhibition, dedicated to special forces, the Athos device [Head-Up Display for Special Operations] aims to display on glasses attached to a ballistic helmet all the information delivered by navigation instruments.

Originally, Athos was an evolution of a technology developed by the Toulouse-based company Eye-Lights, created in 2016. Thus, it markets a system that displays on the visor of a motorcycle helmet all the information including the needs of a biker. This allows him to stay focused on his driving and his environment, and therefore to strengthen his safety [and that of others].

This “head-up display” was initially designed with the help of Photospace, a company specializing in ultra-low-power electronics, radio-frequency equipment, micro-mechanics, and optronics.

Special forces commandos are the first to be affected by these “Athos” glasses, especially for the infiltration phases. Especially since it is compatible with night vision systems and incorporates a GPS chip.

At the moment, Athos glasses only allow the display of navigation information. But one of the planned changes is to add other data, such as those relating to the tactical situation, the position of friendly/enemy troops, etc. And no doubt that this innovation will not only benefit special forces but also “classic ground” forces, especially at the time of infovalorized combat.

UK spends £3M on augmented reality

As we reported on June 16, the British Ministry of Defense will spend nearly $ 4.4 million for ClipIR XD-E Thermal Clip-on systems (TCOS) with which the British soldiers will be equipped. The contractor is Thermoteknix and will have to deliver the first devices to the British military within 12 months.

“We are delighted that our state-of-the-art thermal imaging technology will play a crucial role in equipping British forces in the most challenging of environments. We look forward to working with the MoD to deliver world-leading battlefield technology to British troops, designed, engineered, and manufactured here in the UK, ”explains Thermoteknix Managing Director, Dr. Richard Salisbury.

“Our success will translate into the creation of more UK jobs and provide a boost to the local economy, while also driving British exports to worldwide markets. We are delighted to have been awarded a contract with the MoD during a challenging year for British businesses suffering from the effects of COVID. ”

About ClipIR XD-E Thermal Clip-on systems

ClipIR XD-E Thermal Clip-on systems are a combination of night and thermal imaging and can receive external data, such as navigation. This qualifies them as augmented reality devices. The characteristic of these systems is that they allow them to be used in low light or without light.

ClipIR XD utilizes Thermoteknix patented shutterless XTi technology for exceptional thermal image quality and silent operation without any moving parts. XTi technology provides the ClipIR XD with 60Hz framerate at ultra-low latency which avoids user fatigue or motion effects, a rapid start-up time to image, and does not require the thermal camera non-uniformity calibration before or during use regardless of ambient temperature or operating hours – a requirement present in competitor products.

ClipIR XD provides a 40 ° field of view that matches the full field of view of most night vision devices, crucial in close combat situations and on patrol when situational awareness on either side of the wearer’s direct vision is essential for threat detection.

Some time ago we presented the latest night-vision goggles of the Americans – ENVG-B, which give a very different picture with pronounced contours and graphics. Read more about ENVG-B here.


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