Night vision firm NoblePeak readies for market

NoblePeak Vision, a start-up firm developing camera cores that enable night vision, announced today that it has named a new CEO. Mike Decelle today became the firm's president and CEO, taking over from former CEO and co-founder Cliff King. King will remain with the company in the Chief Operating Officer role, where he will be working on new products and company manufacturing.

Decelle, who has 25 years in technology management experience from companies like Lucent Technologies and Bell Laboratories, will work closely with former CEO Cliff King as the company moves from product development into its go-to-market strategy. "NoblePeak’s TriWave technology has the potential to revolutionize the market for night vision imaging, rendering costly legacy approaches obsolete," said Decelle.

The company is developing the TriWave camera cores to provide what the company is calling "revolutionary" night vision. The firm recently was recognized as the "most promising start-up" in the Global Security Challenge for developing a potentially market-changing technology. For their win at the GSC, company received a half-million dollars.

The NoblePeak TriWave camera cores use germanium-enhanced CMOS sensors. The germanium aids in focusing the infrared spectrum onto the sensor, and the products using this technology are anticipated to be somewhat less expensive than current technologies. "The germanium we're doing is growing germanium crystals on the sensors itself," explained NoblePeak's marketing director Phil Davies. "It's very different than what the thermal guys are doing."

Previous products using germanium had used germanium-coated lenses (typically priced from $300-$700) on standard camera enclosures, but the NoblePeak take a very different approach by using the germanium on the image-capture sensor itself -- esentially growing germanium crystals on the sensor. The goal is to create a camera that can see at night close to what a camera could see in daylight.

Because the firm uses new sensor technology it has had to face issues of fine-tuning never-before-produced technology. While a report by Stephen Jasinski for the United States Geological Service indicated one of the challenges facing industries using germanium had been an increase in demand without an increase in production, public relations representative Becky Reed from Sandra Jones and Company (which represents NoblePeak) said that supply hadn't been a challenge for the chip foundries with which NoblePeak is working. Rather, she said, the chief challenge of this new technology had been how to properly grow the germanium crystals on the CMOS chips and how to control operating temperatures in the cameras themselves.

The company already has working camera cores out, which have been distributed as part of evaluation kits to leading commercial security and defense product developers. Reed added that the firm is hoping to be able to expand into the traditional commercial security market in the second quarter of 2008. NoblePeak will reportedly be showcasing its technology at the tradeshow floors of both ISC West 2008 and ASIS International 2008.

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