Imaging and Detector Industry Report

Sensor supports Shuttle thruster mapping system; Sunglasses incorporate microdisplays; Headwall Photonics finalizes Agilent buyout; more...

Oct 1st, 2003

Sensor supports Shuttle thruster mapping system

Laser Techniques (Bellevue, WA) is developing an automated, laser-based scanning system intended to improve the safety of future Space Shuttle missions. Building on work conducted in 2002 to design and demonstrate a miniature, high-performance laser sensor for the thrusters, Laser Techniques was awarded a contract from NASA to produce a full-scale thruster mapping system. According to the company, the prototype sensor was successfully demonstrated to be capable of locating and mapping features to an accuracy of better than 0.0005 in. When the system is completed, Laser Techniques will send it to NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico where it will be used in thruster life-testing projects and for routine thruster overhaul and refurbishment activities.

NASA is interested in extending the use of Laser Techniques' portable scanning system to on-shuttle applications, enabling inspectors to detect and map flaws in the lining of thrusters while they are still attached to the shuttle. This would be a significant improvement over current visual methods of inspection, which require removal and shipping of ties. "Our objective is to eliminate human error and subjectivity in this critical inspection task," said James Doyle, president of Laser Techniques. "By inspecting the thrusters in situ with our laser-based scanning system, we will increase the efficiency of the inspection process while improving the safe operation of the thrusters."

Sunglasses incorporate microdisplays

Kopin (Taunton, MA) is providing microdisplays for Eyetop, new consumer eyewear that displays multimedia images. Eyetop, manufactured and distributed by Ingineo SAS, are high-fashion sunglasses integrating Kopin's 320C (0.24-in. diagonal) color CyberDisplay in one of the sidepieces, enabling the wearer to privately view digital video while continuing to view the surrounding environment in style.

Eyetop wearers can view the display screen with one eye while maintaining visual contact with the world around them. According to the company, the display has the same color and image quality of a full-sized PC monitor, whether at night or in bright sunlight. Eyetop plugs and plays with any device that has a video output, such as a portable video player, digital camera, digital camcorder, portable TV, laptop, desktop or PDA.

Headwall Photonics finalizes Agilent buyout

Headwall Photonics (Fitchburg, MA) has acquired the spectral module and holographic diffraction grating business of Agilent Technologies (Palo Alto, CA) through a management buyout. The deal included funding and asset list value in excess of $8 million and included all manufacturing assets, technology rights, and supplier agreements, along with a longstanding customer base. All employees of the former Agilent holographic grating operation have joined Headwall Photonics, which provides optical technologies that manage wavelengths for applications in life sciences, analytical test and measurement, and telecommunications.

FLIR wins $1 million contract for IR cameras

FLIR Systems (Portland, OR) has been awarded a $1 million contract from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to supply more than 100 ThermoVision Scout infrared handheld cameras. The ONDCP Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center was established five years ago to transfer the latest in law enforcement technologies to state and local agencies to assist them in the war on drugs.

According to FLIR, the ThermoVision Scout offers substantial detection capabilities above and beyond the low-level-light technology currently on the market, giving law enforcement personnel a valuable new high-tech tool in their pursuit and apprehension of criminals. The Scout enables law enforcement officers to see suspects or victims clearly in complete darkness or fog, through foliage, and in other hard-to-see situations, often up to 1200 ft away.

For more business news, subscribe to Optoelectronics Report. Contact Jayne Sears-Renfer at jaynesr@pennwell.com.

Also in the news . . .

Actuality Systems (Burlington, MA) has been granted key patents on its spatial three-dimensional technology in both the United States and Taiwan. The patents broadly describe a volumetric three-dimensional display system and specifically cover unique optics for Actuality's Perspecta display. . . . Redlake (San Diego, CA) has completed the consolidation of its manufacturing operations within two existing facilities of the Roper Scientific and Industrial Imaging group at Roper Industries (Tucson, AZ) and Burnaby (BC, Canada). Redlake headquarters will relocate to a new facility in the San Diego, CA by Nov. 1 and will continue to operate as usual. . . . Universal Display (Ewing, NJ) completed a $16.1 million registered direct offering of 2 million shares of its common stock to certain institutional investors pursuant to a Placement Agent Agreement dated Aug. 22 with SG Cowen Securities as placement agent.

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