Multispectral camera for infantry helmets and weapon sights goal of DARPA solicitation

ARLINGTON, Va.-Electro-optics scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking industry to develop a small, multispectral camera to help infantrymen and small combat units detect and identify battlefield threats in daylight, night, bad weather, smoke, and dust.

DARPA scientists are asking industry to develop multispectral sensors for infantry helmets and rifle sights for enhanced situational awareness.
DARPA scientists are asking industry to develop multispectral sensors for infantry helmets and rifle sights for enhanced situational awareness.

DARPA has released a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-13-04) for the Pixel Network for Dynamic Visualization (PIXNET) program, which seeks to reduce the size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) of helmet- and infantry weapon-mounted, situational-awareness cameras. PIXNET also seeks to improve color fusion and image rendition for users to improve the infantryman's ability to detect and identify potential threats quickly and communicate crucial development to higher command authorities, as well as for on-site planning at the squad level. Ultimately, the program seeks to develop helmet-mounted and clip-on camera systems that combine visible, near-infrared, and infrared sensors into one system and combine the outputs. PIXNET technology would fuse multispectral information into a common image viewable on the warfighter display and sharable across units.

Each camera type will be linked wirelessly to an Android smartphone for multi-band image fusion, data processing, and image display. DARPA researchers say they expect the PIXNET camera to be network ready with a smartphone. The combination of a smart phone and the PIXNET camera is to enhance tactics, techniques, and procedures.

"PIXNET will require innovations to combine reflective and thermal bands for maximum visibility during the day or night, and then package this technology for maximum portability," says Nibir Dhar, DARPA program manager for PIXNET. "What we really need are breakthroughs in aperture design, focal plane arrays, electronics, packaging, and materials science."

Companies interested should contact Nibir Dhar at DARPA (DARPA-BAA-13-04@darpa.mil, fax 703-807-9926) no later than 11 Jan. 2013.


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