Bertin presented its FusionSight® Night Vision Device at the Eurosatory 2016, which was held between 13-17 June 2016, in Paris, France.

Developed in partnership with PHOTONIS, FusionSight® is the world’s first compact monocular that combines a colour low-light sensor with a thermal image sensor. When combined, these sensors enhance situational awareness and provide users with the option of using a thermal image, colour optical image or a fused thermal and full-colour image that can also be recorded.

To win in close combat missions under increasing global terrorist threats, the ability to use the night as your ally has become a priority. Infantry commanders and special forces require reliable and easy to use devices that are highly efficient in the field during night operations when facing hidden or camouflaged enemies. FusionSight® assists by drastically enhancing the detection, recognition and identification capability, making it a key device for Police and Homeland Security to quickly investigate or for long-term surveillance.

Even under limited visibility and low-light conditions, FusionSight® provides substantial visual support for search-and-rescue missions, locating missing persons and casualties. The combined view of thermal and colour imaging is especially critical in urban environments or structures that provide little ambient light and have multiple barriers behind which a potential threat can conceal themselves.

FusionSight®: night and day field vision enhancer

FusionSight® is the industry’s first handheld device that features smart colour fusion of images. The first image is recorded by a state-of-the-art colour imaging sensor (powered by PHOTONIS) that provides a colour image in extreme low-light conditions (~10mlx) without additional illumination.

The second image is recorded by a high-resolution thermal imaging sensor that can detect in any night condition (down to 1 mlx). The embedded real-time image processor automatically selects key information from each sensor, allowing users to see at dark night even better than in broad daylight, and can record and be saved as a digital file.

The smart digital fusion also overcomes the traditional limitations of each individual sensor: FusionSight® can detect through smoke, other obscurants and in deep night conditions with a thermal sensor while providing an optical colour image that can detect through windows with sufficient resolution to allow positive identification thanks to the colour imaging sensor.

FusionSight®’s assets include:

  • All-in-one with three viewing modes: colour low-light, thermal and smart fusion
  • Night and day threat and camouflage detection (ranging up to 3km)
  • Ergonomic design inspired by user’s needs
  • Image recording and HD video output for proof collection

Project partner PHOTONIS provided their Kameleon Colour Image Sensor for the FusionSight®. The sensor uses a Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) similar to mobile phones, which in itself, cannot distinguish colours. To identify colour, a patented innovation allows two raw images and a reconstruction algorithm to reproduce the final image in colour in real time.

In 2015, PHOTONIS received the prestigious French Army “Prix General Chanson” award for their innovative digital night vision sensor. An added advantage of the Kameleon sensor is the ability to use it under daylight and at night, up to night level three (quarter moon with cloud cover). In lower light levels, the sensor will revert visible images to black and white. Kameleon is developed by the PHOTONIS’ Digital Imaging division.

BERTIN Systems and Instrumentation managing director Bruno Vallayer said: “Our collaboration with PHOTONIS began nearly three years ago when both companies allied to jointly develop cutting-edge solutions to meet National Defence’s needs more closely.

“Together we decided to take the lead in building on the latest fully-mastered optronics innovations to offer 100%-made-in-France solutions.

“This approach would also allow to benefit from the unique agility that characterises SMEs in order to provide powerful, competitive and scalable devices brought to market in the shortest time as possible.”

PHOTONIS Digital Imaging managing director Casper Dekker stated: “We are pleased to partner with BERTIN on such an innovative project.

“It is a perfect match for our award-winning technology.

“The expertise of both companies has resulted in a high-performing sight that provides dismounted users the ability to rapidly Detect, Recognize and Identify (DRI) targets in all conditions and environments.

“The uniqueness of DRI at low-light conditions and recording capability for evidence purposes is a great fit for modern warfare requirements.”

The FusionSight® project is part of a newly established Night Vision Technology Innovation alliance, currently forged between BERTIN TECHNOLOGIES, PHOTONIS and OPTSYS, and it supports the scope of the decision by the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French MOD) and Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) to support the French Optronics industry and to define a joint R&D roadmap.

The French Optronics industry has an estimated annual turnover of €2.5b (in 2012) representing 10% of the global market and ranks second after the USA.