By Ben Ames
TAUNTON, Mass. - Kopin Corp. in Taunton, Mass., won a production contract from ITT Industries Night Vision in Roanoke, Va., for display subsystems for the new generation of night-vision equipment for the soldier-the U.S. Army’s Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG) system.
The ENVG helps improve mobility and situational awareness by providing the soldier with combined images from an image intensifier and a thermal imager. The thermal scene displays on Kopin’s high-resolution ruggedized CyberDisplay SVGA microdisplay, and the Kopin display subsystem optically combines this image with the output of an image intensifier.
While the image intensifier amplifies available light and allows soldiers to “turn night into day,” it cannot see through battlefield smoke or fog. The intensifier, furthermore, has limitations in extremely dark places like tunnels and deep caves. However, the thermal camera is able to operate in any lighting condition, day or night, and is able to see through smoke and fog.
The ENVG allows the soldier to select the preferred imaging technology (image intensified or thermal) based on ambient conditions, or to combine them in an optical overlay. By combining the strengths of both technologies into one unit, the ENVG enables soldiers to complete their missions more safely and more effectively in any battlefield environment, Kopin officials say.
“Our design team modified and optimized our standard CyberDisplay product specifically for this critical application,” explains Dr. John C. Fan, president and chief executive officer of Kopin Corp.
ITT last April won a sole-source, multiyear contract for the ENVG program from the U.S. Army. The program has a potential estimated value to ITT of $560 million over five years.
Qualification units were to be delivered by the end of 2005, with extensive testing to be completed by spring 2006.
The Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO Soldier)-the organization that develops, builds, fields, and maintains everything that the soldier wears, carries, and operates-is committed to fielding the ENVG and has recently placed the first production order with ITT for units to be fielded in 2006.
“Our engineers have been working side-by-side with the ITT engineering team for several years to provide an optimized display solution for the ENVG,” says Michael J. Presz, Kopin’s vice president of government programs.
“While earlier prototypes utilized lower-resolution displays, the ENVG has been redesigned to use our new SVGA (800-by-600-pixel resolution) AMLCD,” Presz says. “This display was originally developed with funding by the Army in support of the Land Warrior Program, and modifying it for use in the ENVG Program is an added bonus. ITT has chosen us as the display supplier because the performance and reliability of our displays are unmatched by competing technologies.”
ITT Night Vision provides Generation 3 image intensifier technology for U.S. and allied military forces as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement, serving markets such as fluid and water management, including water treatment; defense communications, optoelectronics, information technology, and services; electronic interconnects and switches; and other specialty products. For more information, see www.itt.com.
Kopin manufacturers microdisplays to the consumer electronics, industrial, and military markets, and is a merchant supplier of heterojunction-bipolar-transistor (HBT) wafers for power-amplifier integrated circuits. For more information, see www.kopin.com.