Features

TILO-Features

The TILO™ is not only the smallest thermal imaging goggle in the world, it also offers many additional possibilities compared to conventional goggles. During development, however, we took great care to ensure that operation remains convenient and uncomplicated during use. However, all more complex functions are accessible to the user via a menu and it is up to the user to configure the device himself to suit the operating conditions.

In the following, the functions and properties are explained and the differences between the devices are also discussed:

 

Range
Originally the TILO™ was developed as thermal imaging goggles. Therefore they have a large viewing angle of 24° for thermal imaging devices. This is the only way to use them for orientation in the field or even in buildings.

We have already received feedback from some military forces that, due to the significantly lower weight of the TILO, they have already decided against using their residual light amplifier, as the terrain display of the thermal image is sufficient.

Basically, the larger the viewing angle, the smaller the range. So if I compare two devices with the same number of sensor pixels (e.g. 320×256), the device with the smaller viewing angle will always have the larger range. This is no different with a telescope. Like there, the narrower viewing angle and the higher range are noticeable in the magnification.

Two typical devices are the TILO-3Z+™ and the TILO-3Z+2×™. Both have the same sensor with 320×256 pixels. As the name suggests, the TILO-3Z+2×™ has twice the magnification compared to the TILO-3Z+™. Therefore, the TILO-3Z+2×™ is well suited for users who attach particular importance to a longer range. With a detection range of 1000m, it is twice as far as the TILO-3Z+™ with 500m. Due to the narrower viewing angle, which here is only 12°, it is far less suitable for use as glasses.

TILO-6Z+™
If you want to have a large range and a large viewing angle in one device, you have to increase the number of pixels of the sensor. That's what the TILO-6™ was developed for. With a 640×512 pixel sensor it has four times the number of pixels. Even at small magnifications, the significantly improved sharpness of the image is noticeable with this device. However, the higher resolution becomes particularly clear when using the electronic zoom. Even with a fourfold electronic zoom, you still get a clear gain in detail in the picture. The AI image processing also contributes considerably to this.

 

Afocal lens 3×
The TILO range can be considerably increased with a afocal lens 3×. With the TILO-6™ series and the TILO-3Z+2×,™ the lens can even be attached conveniently within seconds with a bayonet lock. Thus, for example, the TILO-6Z+™ achieves a range of up to 3km. The TILO is one of the few thermal imaging devices where an afocal lens 3× makes sense, because only by the small pixel pitch of the sensor one can use an afocal lens 3× of a small size which practically does not "swallow" any light (thermal radiation). If one would equip a normal thermal imaging device with such a small magnification lens, the image would become dull especially in bad weather conditions. It is similar to binoculars, which have a small objective lens diameter and are used at dusk.

After the lens has been attached, however, it makes sense to carry out a calibration, which considerably improves the image. For this purpose, the lens is directed onto a rough surface that is as uniform as possible and has approximately the same ambient temperature. Then the calibration is started, which then takes only 0.5 seconds. If the camera or ambient temperature changes, the calibration can be repeated. A key is pressed for this purpose.

 

Definition range
We are often asked, up to which distance one or the other TILO can be used for the hunt for the recognition of wild animals. Exact statements are hardly possible here. Too many factors play a role here:

  1. Weather conditions, damp and hazy weather or even rain can significantly reduce the image quality of thermal imaging devices. But even at the end of long sunny days, there is often so much heat stored in the environment in the evening that the detection range can be reduced.
  2. When recognizing animals, not only the silhouette is helpful, but also the movement of the animal. If the animal hardly moves, recognition becomes difficult.

Similar problems are encountered in the military application of thermal imaging devices, so the following classification has become established. The target is usually the standing 1.76m tall man:

  1. Discover: Identify heat sources that cannot yet be accurately determined. The detection distance is the distance that can best be determined objectively, therefore it is usually given as the performance index of our devices. For the TILO-6Z+™ and TILO-6M™, for example, this is approx. 1000m.
  2. Recognize: Define more precisely what it is. If, for example, it is a human being, a pig or a deer. The exercise in interpreting the thermal image contributes to increasing the range. As a rule of thumb it can be assumed that the detection range is about one third of the detection range. With the TILO-6Z+™ therefore max. 350m under optimal conditions.
  3. Identify: A distance that is particularly difficult to measure. It is not a question of identifying individual persons, but of determining to which army a soldier belongs. Since this has to be measured individually, we have decided not to specify the identification range.

 

AI image processing

Many people know it, when using an electronic zoom function, the image starts to "pixel" with increasing magnification, i.e. the individual picture elements become visible as larger and larger squares. This is very annoying and leads to the fact that the image can hardly be interpreted meaningfully by the viewer, especially at very large zoom levels (from 8×). In order to counteract this problem, all TILOs now have a special AI (Artificial Intelligence) image processing. This smoothes the image at every zoom level so that as few pixels as possible are visible. This artificially increases the resolution. Although such an algorithm is not able to produce a perfectly sharp image at large zoom levels, it has been shown that the viewer can start much more with a blurred image than with a pixelated image of the same resolution. This allows the user to evaluate up to 50% more information of the image, which ultimately significantly increases the range.
Due to the AI image processing, the zoom level 8× of the TILO-6™ can still be used usefully. Accordingly the zoom level 4× with the TILO-3™ series.

 

Runtime

Devices of the TILO3™ series have the longest battery life. The TILO-6™ with its 640×512 pixel sensor has a significantly higher consumption and therefore a shorter battery life with the same battery.

Depending on the application, there are now various possibilities to equip the devices with batteries or rechargeable batteries.

Standard battery compartment:
 Here a battery of the type CR123 finds place. Batteries of this size are not recommended, as they have too little battery life. In this configuration the TILO-3Z+™ weighs only 100g and runs 3:15h. Recently we have received reports that this time is supposedly not reached. But the times could only be confirmed with us. However the following is to be considered:

  1. Use good batteries. These are not necessarily the most expensive. The batteries we sell have a medium price and a very good battery life. Brand Varta batteries, on the other hand, have a shorter battery life.
  2. The display should be operated in one of the lower brightness settings.
  3. Our measurements were performed at 20°C room temperature. Significantly colder temperatures can reduce the battery life.

Battery-Extension:
By replacing the battery cap 2 batteries of type CR123 can be inserted. This more than doubles the battery life. A special battery (16650) can also be inserted in this compartment, which also achieves a significantly longer battery life. It is recommendable to operate the TILO-6™ with the battery extension, as a pleasant battery life can thus be achieved. Therefore, this accessory is also included in the standard scope of delivery of the TILO-6™ series.

External power supply:
If it gets longer again, the TILO can be operated with the external power supply for approx. 28h permanently. The Power Bank is charged at a standard USB port. It is therefore a cost-effective solution. If required, any other 5V Power Bank (mobile phone accessories) can also be connected to the cable.

 

  Standard battery closure Battery Extension External power supply
TILO-3™-series CR123 3:15h

2×CR123 7:15h
1×16650  6:30h

with standard Power Bank
about 20h

TILO-6™-series CR123 1:45h 2×CR123 4:30h
1×16650 3:00h

with standard Power Bank
about 20h

 

Sensor calibration
Since the TILO is an uncooled thermal imaging device, the sensor must be calibrated in one way or another. The different TILO series use different mechanisms for this. They are explained below.

Automatic Shutter/Automatic Calibration

For this purpose a small plate is mechanically folded for 0.5s in front of the thermal image sensor. Then a soft click is audible and for this moment the image freezes briefly. Before the shutter process, a small green square appears at the edge of the image to indicate the forthcoming process. As long as the device has not yet reached the operating temperature, this process takes place more frequently. Then only every 5-10 minutes. Since the shutter requires full batteries, it can happen that it is set when the batteries are almost empty. This is indicated by an empty green square. This is not a major problem as there is an alternative with manual shuttering.

Manual Shutter/Manual Calibration with the Lens Shutter
The manual calibration is performed by closing the lens cover for at least 0,5s but not locking it. This results in a calibration that also includes the lens in the process, and is therefore very accurate. After a manual calibration has been performed once, the automatic calibration is switched off until the device is restarted. The manual calibration is performed especially for the following reasons.

  1. The clicking of the automatic shutter is perceived as disturbing
  2. Energy should be saved (battery life)
  3. The automatic shutter is deactivated due to a low battery voltage
  4. A particularly high image quality is required

A special case is the manual calibration when using the afocal lens 3×.

NUC software shutter
The TILO-6™ does not have an automatic shutter, but a software algorithm that continuously optimizes the image. This algorithm may take a few seconds to minutes to generate an optimal image. In order to shorten this time, a manual shutter process can be done at any time.