Sophie Ultima and the Future Soldiers of Thales
Thales presents its latest version of the Sophie range of thermal imagers by introducing Sophie Ultima.
Sophie Ultima is a 4 in 1 thermal imaging device that combines tactical binoculars, an infrared target locator, a daytime laser range finder and a teleconverter into a single piece of equipment that weighs 2.5kg. The product has also been developed to be future-proof, that is, it can accommodate future operational requirements and technologies, and includes the new eXtension concept – a family of plug & play accessories for future capability upgrades.
During a demonstration, General Alain Bouquin, Thales’ army advisor, explained that Sophie Ultima is part of Thales’ vision of the soldier of the future. On mission, one soldier handles the camera to ensure situational awareness of the surrounding areas, while the soldiers advancing in the field are equipped with a head-mounted display. The head-mounted display – glasses attached to the helmet – is linked to Sophie Ultima so that key information for situational awareness is transmitted in real-time to the soldiers allowing them to continue looking at the field simultaneously. The display is also connected to the soldier weapon, so that if there is a need to fire soldiers can simply aim through the display rather than using the aim on their weapon.
“The key idea behind all this is to respond to our troops’ concerns regarding the first generation of FELIN equipment,” General Bouquin told the press. FELIN (Fantassin à Equipements et Liaisons INtegrés – Integrated equipment and liaisons infantryman) was designed to include a tablet where soldiers could find all the information regarding situational awareness in the field; feedback from the French army, however, criticised the system indicating that while on mission all the information included in the tablet constituted cognitive overload. The head-mounted display would prevent this from happening by keeping the information displayed on the glasses to the key essentials. “We are currently at TRL7 with this technology, and hope to have it finalised in the next 2 to 4 years,” concluded General Bouquin.