Stabilized Digital Binoculars

Stabilized Digital Binoculars

Fraser Optics is a defense technology company that designs and produces stabilized optical technology products for the defense, homeland security, law enforcement, and commercial markets. They are the first manufacturer of military-grade gyro-stabilized binoculars and optics products made in the USA. They produce both the M25 and the M25A1 gyro-stabilized binocular for the US military.

“We accomplished more with Paladin Robotics in three months than the entire previous year”

After being awarded a $2.8M contract by the US Army’s PEO Soldier Program, to develop a next generation digital binocular with enhanced stabilization and augmented capability, Fraser Optics discovered the need to extend their research team, fill-in skill gaps, and increase their bandwidth. And that’s where Paladin Robotics comes in.

Project Description

The project was to rapidly develop a mechatronic and optoelectronic prototype binocular for the military, and to help Fraser Optics develop a leap-ahead platform for a new ecosystem of next-generation military and commercial products. Ultimately, the final prototypes are headed to field trials at the US Army Futures Command. As we worked with Fraser Optics, we were ultimately invited to help them prepare an SBIR proposal for related technology, and also to provide our expert knowledge of robotics and automation in support of a proposal to UPS’s Flight Forward Drone Program.

Paladin Robotics is well-suited to these types of projects. We excel at research and development, rapidly prototyping and iterating on design concepts. We were able to extend the Fraser Optics’ in-house engineering team, and we contributed to their product strategy, operations, research and development. In support of prototype development, we provided hardware and software design and production, UI and UX development, systems integration, and created a testbed to facilitate future experimentation with new cameras, screens and peripherals.

What We Did

This is a classic product-focused research and development project. Over the course of this project we provided:

  • Research
  • Initial Requirements Development
  • Specification Development
  • Component Selection
  • Detailed Project Plan
  • Initial BOM estimates
  • Project Management
  • Prototyping

We also assisted by providing our expertise in evaluating internal hires and helped train their team to better understand the problem space.

We started with nothing more than a concept and some off-the-shelf hardware. Over the course of the next few months, we designed and produced custom printed circuit boards. We integrated several cameras from multiple manufacturers into the testbed for testing and evaluation. We integrated digital compass units, global positioning systems, inertial motion units. We integrated a laser range finder and displays. We designed and built power management systems, the user interface and displays.

We supported the Fraser Optics team throughout the prototype development. With our expertise and protoyping expertise, we were able to have a working technology demonstrator ready for Fraser Optics to take to SHOT Show in Las Vegas. SHOT Show is the world’s largest trade show for the shooting, hunting and firearms industry. The SHOT Show is restricted to members of the shooting, hunting, military and outdoor trade industry including commercial buyers and sellers of military, law enforcement and tactical products. It is not open to the general public.

Having a demonstration at this event was identified as a stretch goal for Paladin Robotics with only three months lead time to go from concept to working prototype. Paladin Robotics accepted the challenge and quickly brought the team together on an aggressive project plan.  We delivered a tested, working prototype (see photos below) just in time. Following SHOT show, we re-vamped the design to take us one step closer to manufacture-ready prototype and took a lead role in briefing the design to the government at the Preliminary Design Review, a key milestone in the procurement process.

Ultimately, we’ve helped Fraser Optics produce working proof-of-concept prototypes, hire and build their team, and carry the project forward to success. We were key contributors in helping Fraser Optics hit critical procurement milestones and secure the release of nearly $1M worth of project funding. The prototype pictures shown below represent a huge amount of effort and engineering know-how. Of course, it’s a proof-of-concept, and we’ve worked hard to further develop the project to be smaller, lighter, and far more compact.