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Happy New Year and New 2011 Technology Introductions

12 January 2011

New high resolution uncooled thermal camera

Optronics Africa Partner Xenics IR has just introduced the Gobi 640,  a smart, affordable uncooled microbolometer (LWIR) camera for thermal imaging, based on a flexible TCP/IP interfacing in a very compact housing. The Gobi offers a high degree of flexibility in terms of frame rate, user interface and temperature range, enabling the user to adapt it to various industrial settings and tasks, covering the automotive industry at optimum operational conditions. All camera functions can be optimized according to user applications context, including four different display modes.

  • 640 x 480 on 25 µm pixel pitch
  • uncooled microbolometer array
  • 8 to 14 µm sensitivity
  • Frame rate 50 Hz or 9 Hz
  • Stand-alone or PC-controlled
  • 14-bit Ethernet and CameraLink interface

Meet us as AAD2010

10 September 2010

Optronics Africa will be at Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD 2010) AFB Ysterplaat, Cape Town.
21-25 September 2010

Africa Aerospace and Defence, 21-25 September, AFB Ysterplaat, Cape Town

We will be at the greatest Aerospace and Defence Show in Africa

Come and meet with us to discuss your optronics and surveillance needs, and to see what we can offer.

The Optronics Africa Stand will be in Hall 4 at the AISI Pavilion, Stand 6, where we will have some systems on display related to safety and security.

Our supplier, Xenics, will be at Hall 7, Stand 11 with several camera systems on display, including a low-cost stabilized airborne gimbal for security, policing and environmental protection applications.

We are looking forward to meeting you!

Clean Burning Gas Flare observation with IR Thermography Cameras

13 April 2010


South Africa has a large mining sector, with mining being one of the primary economic drivers for the country. Many of the mineral processing sites, have a range of by-products which need to be managed in some cases from a health and safety point of view. A typical approach is to flare of combustible vapor by-products or surplus gas from the plant.

In many flaring cases, it has been found that some of the vapor is very clean burning, and visual inspection is unsatisfactory to determine if the vapor is indeed being burned as required.

At a recent experimental demo, Optronics Africa used a Xenics GOBI camera to observe the burning of 4 simultaneous gas flares and were able to determine if the flares we indeed burning or not.

The camera used is an a-Si FPA uncooled solution in the 8-14um waveband. It has a resolution of 384 X 288 pixels with a 50Hz frame rate.

The camera was set at a stand-off of approximately 100-200m from the various stacks and was able to clearly observed the gas flares while the processing was in operation. Of particular importance was that two of the flares were indeed invisible to the naked eye, yet showed up clearly on the camera display.

IR image of clean burning gas flare

It is clear that the use of IR imaging in a non-contact stand of configuration with appropriate lens, frame rate  and band can effectively be used in the observation of clean burning gas flares from industrial processes.


6 March 2010


A HUGE INFLUX of international visitors is being expected by South Africa through the various Ports-Of-Entry during the upcoming difficult and very exciting period as the World’s foremost teams gather to fight it out….

The arrival of so many people from all over the world, some travelling from their summer to our winter, and others simply swopping their winter for ours, will inevitably bring about an increased risk and possible spread of infectious disease.

As part of our commitment to invest in the well-being of the local community and that of our international visitors, Optronics Africa together with one of our partners, Xenics Infrared Solutions, will be providing our  competition winner with the following 2010 Grand Prize:

The use of: 1 x Raven Fever Detection System.  On loan for 6 months at no cost.

Terms and Conditions will apply to the competition.

The competition will open next month, and participation will be extended to all South African official Ports-Of-Entry.  The competition will include a few simple questions.

The winning Port Of Entry will be enabled to provide improved health monitoring facilities and therefore contribute to the reduction in the spread of disease for the duration of the loan at no cost.

If you wish to read up on the technology offering, please read the following blog post:

Accurate reliable non contact fever detection system for airports, harbours and ports of entry.

Accurate reliable non contact fever detection system for airports, harbours and ports of entry.

6 March 2010

Preventing the spread of infectious diseases is a concern to all nations and health authorities.  South Africa is no exception.

In combating the spread of disease, international travel has been identified as a major contributor to the rapid spreading of infectious diseases, and it is fairly obvious that the areas where it would be ideal to place controls to reduce such spread, include airports, harbours and other ports of entry.

In the case of many infectious diseases, fever is a fairly common overt sign, and as such, the early detection of elevated body temperatures may provide the key to an effective disease-prevention strategy.

A means of detecting such elevated body temperatures is by means of infrared thermography.

Typical setup for fever detection at security checkpoint

Infrared cameras detect the heat that is emitted from a surface, in this case the skin.  This produces a temperature map of the person in real-time.  The process is totally passive, harmless and non-intrusive, very much the same as the process when a conventional video camera records a video clip.

The temperature measured at the corner of the individual’s eye (inner canthus) closely approaches core body temperature, and for this reason it is desirable to focus on the face when applying thermography to the detection of fever in individuals.

The most suitable location for the fixed installation of such a system would be at any place  that has long queues such as at passport or customs control.  At these locations people can be screened individually.

The results are displayed in a coloured image, where various colours represent various temperatures, and it is possible to highlight temperatures above pre-set thresholds.

The Xenics Raven-384 infrared camera together with the specialised fever detection software is an accurate, simple, reliable and above all, affordable solution for all locations where the spatial measurement of temperature in real time is required.




Optronics Africa goes RF

3 February 2010

OK, so this blog post may be a bit premature, especially considering that all our blog pages are still under construction, pretty much the same as our website, but this does not preclude me from sharing some of my ideas.

François in the early 90's - atmospheric transmission measurements.

I have spent several years working on the development of camouflage, and on the measurement of aircraft signatures (in order to develop countermeasure systems to protect them from missile attacks).  This work all falls into the category that we can describe as Defence R&D, and in my case, most of the work can easily be categorised under the optronics category, as my work revolved mostly around visible colours, infrared radiation, infrared imaging systems and infrared countermeasures.

For me, the logical progression from exclusively focusing on optronic solutions has always been to look at the problems in the broader context, and to consider multi-sensor packages that exploit the advantages of all available technologies, so as to provide the most advantageous solution.  This is unfortunately not the case with many domain specialists, as they seem to have a very narrow perspective… similar to that of a horse wearing blinkers… and all they can do is focus on their area of expertise.

It is for this very reason that although we established Optronics Africa to concentrate on the sale and marketing of high-end optronics products, we have decided that we should also offer complementary solutions from other sensor bands such as RF systems.

I had the opportunity to co-present a paper at Shephard Conferences in London in 2004.  The topic of this specific paper was Scenario Planning, and the role of Electronic Warfare in support of Peace Operations in Africa.

François presenting a paper at Shephard EW 2004 in London

In the presentation, Dr Jan Roodt of the CSIR and I, considered the various factors that lead to the instability and conflict experienced in various parts of Africa at present.  We considered a wide range of influences varying from mineral wealth to ethnicity, religion, drought, hunger and politics.  We highlighted the topic of piracy around the Horn of Africa, long before it became the hot topic that it is today.

Jan then went on to describe in detail (and to demonstrate) the work of his team on the development of an artificial intelligence based methodology for capturing human knowledge and assisting with decision support and scenario planning in complex environments.  The models allow for simulations under a wide variety of contexts ranging from military to purely diplomatic scenarios in both hostile and friendly environments.

I have since then been involved in the demonstration of high-tech optronic systems to various government organisations for use in coastal and maritime environments, as surveillance and observation tools, for crime fighting, security, defence and environmental conservation.

It was around this time that it dawned on me that by concentrating solely on the optical side of things I was missing out on many opportunities, as well as sales, because I could not offer a complete solution.  (pretty much in the same way as the domain experts with the horse blinkers…)  It was with this in mind that we decided at Optronics Africa to extend our product offerings, and to include a range of radar based technology products aimed specifically at the maritime traffic and harbour facilities market.  Enter Pegase Systems (France).

The Triton from Pegase Systems.

We hope that with the help of the products from Pegase Systems, and our already established optronics products from world class manufacturers such as Xenics Infrared Solutions and Raptor Photonics (to name but a few), we will be able to make a lasting contribution to peace and stability on the African continent.

I foresee a continued rise in criminal, terrorist and pirate activity, as Jan and I predicted at the Shephard EW2004 Conference where we first highlighted the piracy issue.   We realise that the aim of efficiently combating environmental crimes such as pollution of the environment, smuggling, poaching and illegal harvesting of natural resources will require drastic measures.  These measures include significant capital investment in technology, technological training of law enforcement officers, and the upliftment of affected communities.

Optronics Africa is well positioned to provide the technology necessary to accomplish the aim of sourcing the various building blocks required to provide a complete technology solution.

Furthermore, we are a local South African enterprise, our shareholding is representative of South African society, being 34% black and 33% female.  Our shareholders have a credible track record as individuals, having gained much experience in various aspects of knowledge intensive offerings over the years.  We have access to a wide personal network of both local and international domain specialists in the fields of surveillance, optronics and radar, and can assist in the technological training of law enforcement officers, as well as participating actively in the system implementation phase.

In a scenario where many local communities are directly dependent on the sea for their survival, and where fishing is a traditional way of life, products such as the Triton, from Pegase Systems, can provide a unique and integrated solution for automatic surveillance of maritime installations and harbours, thus leading to the upliftment of affected communities.

A technological investment of this nature will also have a long-lasting collateral effect on the improvement of safety along our coastlines by improving navigational aids to shipping and harbour infrastructure, which will in turn, have an effect on sustainable resource management, by reducing the incidence of collisions and reducing the resultant pollution of our in-shore waters.

For more information on our technology offerings, both Optronic and RF, please feel free to contact us on our email address: or post a comment on our blog.