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Electro-Optics using embedded communications and Next-Gen Technologies 

Mobile digital technologies have spawned revolutionary advances in product development, with modern products containing embedded communication and interface protocols. Such connectivity has become an enabler for ever-increasing product sophistication, especially coupled with exponential advances in electro-optics, artificial intelligence, and product miniaturization. We’ll look at products from ATN Europe, one of the leaders in manufacturing smart optics for outdoor use, combining optical devices with cameras, Bluetooth, WiFi, and smartphone connection. We’ll also explore the synergy of the diverse technologies transforming their optical devices, placing unimaginable functionality and capability within reach of consumers. 

Binoculars 

Today’s smart binoculars cram unbelievable layers of technology into a small package. CMOS sensors provide full-color high-definition 4K resolution to provide an unrivaled image definition while offering full 1080P HD video capture to an onboard SD card or live streaming to your mobile device using Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. 

The ATN BinoX 4K 4-16x is an example of the bleeding edge of optical development, incorporating a powerful dual-core processor that can support live streaming of video to phones or tablets while simultaneously recording images. The processor captures 4K video at 120 frames per second, allowing detailed post-mission review and slow-motion analysis. Considerable dual-core processing power provides the heavy lifting for night vision mode in the 4K 4-16x, using advanced digital processing and enhancement technology to capture the available light, then deliver high-resolution images to the eye without deterioration at 10x magnification.  

Thermal imaging is also available with the ATN BinoX 4T 640 2.5-25x, a binocular sharing many advances from the 4K 4-16x, using the same processor, and offering the same display resolution but driving a 640 x 480 4th generation thermal sensor running at a 60Hz frame rate. The sensor uses heat signals emitted by objects to create a heat map, showing a contrast between warm objects and cooler backgrounds. The sensor’s extreme sensitivity allows human detection at 1,950 yards, recognition at 800 yards, and identification at 475 yards. The 4T 640 2.5-25x also allows simultaneous HD recording and live streaming at 60 frames per second. 

There are high-tech features common to both binoculars; both provide infrared illumination for night-vision operations and include a laser range finder that’s good out to 1,000 yards, day or night. One interesting safety feature, particularly for hunters, is a ‘radar’ capability to increase spatial awareness by showing the location of other team members relative to your location. The display shows as a radar graphic in the binocular display and streams to your mobile device to enable a data overlay on satellite maps. For hunters, the radar display can incorporate the position of suitably tagged prey. 

Monoculars  

Monoculars offer users long-distance viewing using a light and compact device that uses one eyepiece. The thermal technology used in the binoculars carries over to the ATN ODIN LT 320 4-8X  monocular, but at a smaller size, weight, and power (SWaP), weighing in at under 300 grams and measuring only 5.71″ x 2.8″ x 2.01″. The display resolution is 1280 x 960 pixels, with a choice of lenses offering magnifications from 2 to 8x and a thermal sensor of 320 x 240 providing 60 frames per second.  

The monocular’s compact size allows the unit to be handheld for hikers and bird watchers or helmet-mounted for hunters or shooters. The low current draw of this unit using a standard lithium-ion battery pack gives 2.5 hours of operation. An optional extended-life rechargeable battery pack increases use in the field to 5 hours with recharge via a USB-C connection. 

Rifle Scopes 

Rifle scopes synthesize the full range of available advanced technologies. The ATN X-SIGHT 4K PRO 5-20X sports a 3864 x 2218 sensor with an image intensifier resolution of 600 lp/mm, displaying on a 1280 x 720 HD display. The scope incorporates an inertial measurement unit comprising tiny sensors manufactured using micromachining technology that measure the scope’s rotation, linear velocity, air pressure, and magnetic orientation.   

An IR illuminator and smart rangefinder are standard, as are WiFi and Bluetooth for intra-device communication and to allow settings management and video viewing with a mobile device. The powerful dual-core processor drives the ballistic calculator, with inputs from the rifle and bullet data, environmental conditions, and range. The output automatically updates the scope’s reticle (crosshair) position for the point of impact and displays all the data in the shooter’s field of view. The scope also offers night vision mode. Despite the smart technology, the internal lithium-ion battery gives over 18 hours of continuous operation. 

If thermal imaging is required, the ATN X-SIGHT 4K PRO 5-20X rifle scope uses the same sensor as in the ATN BinoX 4T 640 thermal binoculars. The displayed images are available in white hot, black hot, or color modes; however, the thermal detection range is vastly greater than the binoculars, offering detection at 3,300 yards, recognition at 1,450 yards, and identification at 800 yards.  

Both scopes have hardened electronics to protect against recoil damage and offer a one-shot zero feature that allows users to sight in the scope automatically after firing one round and using on-screen graphics. Video recording and live-streaming to a mobile device using WiFi are standard, as is a recoil-operated video feature to capture the action upon firing. The radar safety feature provided in the binoculars is also standard in the rifle scopes to ensure you know the position of all in your team before firing. 

Range Finders 

Laser rangefinders measure the time-of-flight of a laser reflected from an object to calculate its distance. Now equipped with Bluetooth technology, rangefinders can communicate directly with a hunter or shooter’s weapon, with the ATN Auxiliary Ballistic Laser 1500 quickly attaching to smart high-definition scopes. The ATN 1500 communicates the range directly to the scope, displaying it in the shooter’s field of view while outputting it to video.  

The range input from the rangefinder integrates seamlessly with the scope’s ballistics calculator to adjust the scope’s reticle immediately to the calculated point of impact. A lesson in miniaturization, the ATN 1500 is accurate to 1 yard at 1500 yards, weighs 360 grams, and measures 4.37″ x 3.43″ x 2.8″, while its single 3-volt CR2 battery provides 12 hours of continuous use.  

Conclusion 

The products manufactured by ATN Europe are a lesson in the layering and smooth integration of multiple diverse technologies to take optical devices to a new level. The solutions provided by the technological innovations resolve many in-service problems, while user safety is improved, fatigue reduced, time on mission increased, and functionality and effectiveness enhanced. Finally, miniaturization and ruggedization cram all this tech into a small footprint, able to survive the harshest conditions.