PANAGYURISHTE, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), August 16, 2018, Author: Boyko Nikolov, Photo Credit: opticoel.com
In the course of the upcoming major military projects in Bulgaria, related to the modernization of our army in the Naval-Air-Land directions, in the background seemed to be facts of the Bulgarian military industry that deserve their attention.
This is the case with one of the most innovative military developments in the field of optical production – SWIR technology.
What is SWIR?
You have to look through a SWIR camera to understand for yourself the capabilities of the technology. Then they get ideas, where and how the technology can be used. In simple words – you see the invisible. The test that we had made in the far 2013, in London, during the DSEi exhibition was the following:
– Unintentionally or not but, then, our “laboratory mice” had been Bulgarian politicians and diplomats, part of the Bulgarian delegation at the exhibition. We had put sunglasses on one of our guests and we had directed SWIRECON 50 lens against him. What had appeared on the computer, as a video signal and what we had saw, were the eyes of the man with the sunglasses.
The more complicated explanation is that SWIR technology operates in the field of shortwave infrared optics, which is its real name – Short Wave InfraRed. I.e. this type of optics operates with light in a range of 0.9 to 1.7 microns and in the range of 0.7 to 2.5 microns, as well. This allows SWIR cameras to capture the light emitted from the earth’s atmosphere at night
What is the application of SWIR technology?
Eng. Nikolay Tsonevski, Director of the SWIRECON Program at Opticoelectron, shares that:
“SWIR Technologies have a great operating application. Unlike some military optical products that are for military purposes only, this type of lens can be “divided” in its use. In the civilian life, it would find a wonderful application in the automotive industry – to see through fog while driving, in civil defense, in the event of a fire – for smoke elimination and fire detection. In medicine, diagnosis will become more accurate and easier – details are seen deep in the retina of the human eye, the veins are seen more clearly if we look through the skin of a person, etc. Generally, the fact that the technology is working exactly in the shortwave infrared spectrum, allows this type of lens to be used almost everywhere.”
Our research shows that SWIR technology products can be used in dozens of our daily life activities – for check of products (is the apple bad inside, is the dark bottle full or empty), on production line in the food industry, in agriculture (inspection of crop quality), in mining (detecting new mines), astronomy, etc.
SWIR and the military industry
Like the most inventions that we use in our civilian everyday life, SWIR comes from the military industry. In this field, three main products are distinguished – products for day, night and thermal vision surveillance. SWIR may (most likely and do) shatter the notion of using night or thermal vision imaging scopes for security and surveillance. Comparing the three products, the advantages of SWIR stand out in the forefront:
– Compared to night scopes, SWIRECON sees up to 1.7 microns (nighttime to 0.9 microns). That’s why night scopes cannot see eye-safe lasers operating at 1.54 microns or at 1,064 microns, while SWIR can. The picture that we can see during a night surveillance by a SWIR camera is clearer and more detailed.
– Compared to thermal imaging scopes, SWIR cameras see more clearly and better through fog and sea haze, while thermal vision cameras – no. Shortwave infrared devices see clearly through a simple window or through a car window, while the thermal cameras – not.
Who produces SWIR lenses in Bulgaria?
Opticoelectron is the first and the only company in Bulgaria to develop and sell SWIR lenses on international markets. Actually, a little – known fact is that it is one of the first companies in the world that years ago had managed to develop and demonstrate the first working prototype of a SWIR camera.
The company’s product range includes the following SWIR products:
– SWIRECON 100
– SWIRECON 50
– SWIRECON 25
– SWIRECON 14
The newest model from the same range is SWIRECON 12.5, which has a very open f-number – 1.2.
It is expected, during the upcoming months, the company to launch more new models to be able to meet the demand in international markets.
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