The Low Cost Thermal Imager - Manufacturing (LCTI-M) program seeks to enable widespread use of infrared imaging (IR) technology by individual warfighters, with a special focus on affordability and ease of use for dismounted soldiers and individual intelligence personnel, for whom situational awareness and instant sharing of information is critical. IR imaging has the capability to “see” through obscurants, providing valuable information even in environments with severely degraded visibility. Low-cost infrared cameras would empower each warfighter with this essential capability and could open the way to new tactical procedures that demand a common view of the battlefield. In addition, such cameras or other small systems with embedded IR technology could enable the capture and transmission of electronic images for intelligence analysis and other critical functions.
Among LCTI–M’s envisioned applications, thermal imaging devices could be inserted into hand-held units, modified cell phone products, rifle sights, helmets, eye-glasses, micro-UAVs, and other small form-factor devices for real-time target recognition, acquisition, and network sharing of data. Moreover, because of their small size and low-power requirements, these thermal imagers could support extended missions while providing the dismounted soldier with enhanced situational awareness, improved identification of target signatures and identify friend or foe (IFF) functions, and the ability to engage and execute close combat in all levels of illumination, adverse weather, and battlefield-obscurant conditions.
The specific goal of LCTI-M is to develop a wafer-scale manufacturing process that will result in a camera on a chip, making thermal imagers affordable and accessible to every warfighter. Objectives include:
Collectively, these capabilities could lead to a new paradigm in tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Additionally, low-cost IR camera products could open new opportunities in platforms for persistent surveillance.
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