Q: Can you tell us a bit about what Emberion does?
A: We produce shortwave infrared cameras that are based on unique nanotechnology we’ve developed ourselves. So we built the cameras and the source from scratch ourselves.
Q: What does the technology allow you to do that perhaps other companies cannot?
A: Our camera is superior due to the shortwave infrared wavelengths at room temperature. Today, traditional players use Indium gallium arsenide – a great technology but it’s extremely expensive and has a limited spectral bandwidth. We have a wide spectral range from visible ranges up to 2000 nanometres in one camera and one sensor. This is something other technologies can’t do. So you can see more for a reasonable price.
See YouTube video on QinetiQ website for demonstration.
Q: So what exactly are the defence and security applications for the technology?
A: The key thing is that camouflage clothing can suddenly become very visible. The other area is the weather – cold, mist, rain, snow – our shortwave infrared gives you visibility through this, which no other wavelength can do. Essentially, wherever you need situational awareness in any operational environment, shortwave infrared becomes critical. Other alternatives are far too expensive.
Q: Where do you see this technology going in the next 5-10 years?
A: We believe its first usage is in the defence industry but most importantly in industrial machine vision.
When we go 5-10 years ahead, the moving devices such as tanks need to have their situational awareness still. But there are other objects that need to move and have that awareness too, in any weather conditions, like the self-driving car. Today, both of us can drive our cars on the road, making judgments about when to stop and watch our speed. But autonomous cars don’t actually see ahead when it’s foggy, so we do believe that this technology will have deployment opportunities in autonomous cars. The situational awareness is necessary in both defence and commercial senses, they aren’t so dissimilar.