By Marc Vayn, Chair and Founder of ATN Corp.
Camera innovators Daguerre and Chevalier dealt with lenses long before smartphones and Instagram filters changed our culture’s approach to photography. From these optical beginnings, our access to capturing and preserving images of the world around us has now gone digital — opening doors to even more incredible possibilities.
Much like a camera, digital optics in binoculars or rifle sights allow us to see something through a lens. Digital innovation, however, has offered connectivity and technological advances that have changed optical performance for the better. Where older concave or convex lens structures in your grandfather’s binoculars may give you a clear sight of your target, digital optics allow users to zoom, resize, re-light, save images and clips, and push them to a website or share to social media.
Ongoing development in the field of optics has also brought advances in the night and thermal vision. Thermal systems use sensors and require electronic motherboards and imaging processors to connect to germanium lenses to generate an image. Digital night vision, another advancement well beyond the Daguerreotype, uses complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) sensors with high-performance glass and components similar to thermal. CMOS sensors are the standard sensors used to create images in digital cameras, CCTV cameras, video cameras, and more.
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From glass to sensors, electronics to clarity of vision, contemporary digital optics bring valuable technological advancements to imaging.
A picture of possibility and utility
Computing and processing abilities double every 18 months, expanding the solutions and shrinking the size of processors. Digital optics company ATN Corp. is bringing optical advancement into the future with its research and development of thermal and night vision optical tools.
Thermal imaging, or the ability to sense heat and map that heat to an image, has long been a tool of military sensors and optics. The process allows users to spot targets at far longer ranges than any traditional night vision ever could. Even in complete darkness and challenging weather conditions, thermal imaging gives users the ability to see the unseen. Since its military development, thermal imaging has since been adopted by law enforcement, fire and rescue teams, and security professionals.
Heat or infrared light can be split into three kinds of light based on its wavelength. Near-infrared or mid-infrared are used by a variety of electrical devices, including remote controls. Occupying the largest part of the infrared spectrum, thermal-infrared has wavelengths ranging from three microns to more than 30 microns. The key difference between thermal-IR and the other two types of infrared light is that thermal-IR is emitted by an object instead of reflected off it. Infrared light is emitted by an object because of activity at the atomic level. Information obtained by these thousand points of light becomes a thermogram which is translated into electric impulses.
In sum, thermal optics allow users to see what their eye alone cannot and proper digital processing and next-generation boards and semiconductors allow manufacturers like ATN Corp. to bring advanced technology to everyday optics users. This advanced technology also brings value to outdoor enthusiasts who are viewing objects from trails to games, to bird s— as part of their recreation.
Opening up the outdoors
Digital optics create a new level of engagement with the outdoors. Hunting and fishing have long been activities shared generationally. But with the advent of social media, a constant stream of new information, tips, tricks, and locations for outdoor enthusiasts is a click away from any mobile device, continually drawing in new hobbyists. Beyond bonding or sharing passions, collecting near-real-time responses and information from the outdoors improves the experience and catalogs details, transforming folklore and family stories into tangible coverage of our natural world.
Because digital optics are suitable for day or night use, the range of activities they can capture is broad. From birdwatching to catching raccoons on a trail, a wealth of opportunities is available to outdoor enthusiasts and content creators alike. Digital optics have advanced quickly, leveraging even high-definition technology in their image capture. Smart HD Optics are powered by the latest microprocessors using high-resolution microdisplays that can instantly be connected to most user devices like smartphones or tablets.
In sight, top of mind
Technology can have a significant impact on environmental awareness just by creating reasons to engage and tools that make engagement easier. From advancements in clothing and weather gear to things like digital optics that bring the outdoors into clear, shareable view, technological improvements in traditional gear and tools can spark new conversations on sustainability with new audiences.
River advocates often cite that recreation on rivers increases advocacy for their cleanliness. Chicago advocates have noted that as more people use the river recreationally, more appetite for legislation and funding for cleanup has emerged. People may identify that those natural spaces need attention and protection, but until they experience natural areas or create habits, hobbies and routines that put them in the middle of the river, the trail or the woods, they may not engage. When being outdoors is easier and more exciting, the outdoors stands to benefit.
Digital optics have renewed a centuries-old technology to connect to the trends and technology we use today. The next likely move in the industry will be to capture power storage and consumption so that these tools last longer in the field. Sensors will continue to shrink and become more user-friendly for developers and integrators to create new UX/UI interfaces and connectivity to drive these systems and their use.
Digital optics are at the forefront of technological advancement and by harnessing that power for gear that touches so many industries and spaces, companies like ATN Corp. are empowering industry professionals and creating new audiences for the next generation of innovation.
ATN Corp. is a manufacturer of high-end night vision devices, thermal imaging devices, military/LE binoculars, and duty/tactical flashlights.