United States Army Selects Boston Micromachines for Phase 1 STTR Project
Boston Micromachines to Build Device to Prevent Friendly Fire
Watertown, Mass., September 5, 2006 — Boston Micromachines Corporation, a leading provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror products for adaptive optics systems, today announced that it has been selected by the United States Army for a Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) award through the Department of Defense. The STTR award of approximately $100,000 will allow Boston Micromachines and its research partner Boston University to begin development of the Secure Communicating Optical Ultra-small Transponder (SCOUT). This new device could save lives on the battlefield through secure optical communication using an active mirror enabling the rapid identification of friendly soldiers, vehicles, or aircraft.
SCOUT will be a highly versatile device. Applications extend beyond Identify Friend or Foe, to include situational awareness, covert communication and reading from remote sensors such as bio-weapon detector and motion trackers. Slightly larger than a matchbox, this ultra-low power, and long range transponder will allow for ground-and air-based communication from soldier-to-soldier, vehicle-to-soldier, and vehicle-to-vehicle. Additionally, SCOUT will be an upgrade to current weapons’ laser systems so the integration of the technology will be seamless.
“We are pleased to be awarded this grant by the United States Army and to help address an ever growing concern for our military forces," said Paul Bierden, president and CEO of Boston Micromachines. “Our technology, which has helped advance applications in Department of Defense laser communications systems, will now play an important role in the effort to save lives on the battlefield.”
SCOUT’s technology is based on a modulated retro-reflector, which employs a design that combines a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) deformable mirror to modulate light with a simple optic which returns a reflected light to its point of origin. The device is enhanced by two inherent characteristics. First, unlike RF transmitters, SCOUT does not send an omni-directional signal but instead directs an optical signal along a narrow path increasing security and stealth with minimal power consumption. Second, since all optical energy comes from the source, SCOUT requires no on-board transmission power.
STTR is an important small business program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development arena. Central to the program is expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small business and the nation's premier nonprofit research institutions. STTR's most important role is to foster the innovation necessary to meet the nation's scientific and technological challenges in the 21st century.