|Forbes article - |
The DoubleTake Is Half-Binocular, Half-Camera, And Has The Focal Length Of A Telescope
“We are confident in saying there is nothing like this on the market,” says Darcy Daugela, 58, chairman at NexOptic Technology Corp. He’s referring to the DoubleTake, which he describes as a next-generation handheld telescope. The device is roughly the size and shape of a pair of binoculars, but with a 5-inch display screen in lieu of lenses. The devices uses a dual-lens system and can beam the image on the screen in real time to other smart devices. The unit weighs about two pounds and has two built-in 12MP cameras, along with 4K video. One charge earns three hours of use, though the device powers down when not in use to save battery.
The DoubleTake is designed to serve as both a camera and a pair of binocularsCredit: NexOptic Technolohgy Corp.
DoubleTake is the first consumer product from the Vancouver-based, 50-person company. The idea came to Daugela and brother John, 52, NexOptic’s CEO, while developing software for solar panels. They were attempting to create technology that would increase the amount of light absorbed by each solar panel, thus making the panel more profitable. While testing various strategies, they discovered a specific wedge shape that concentrated light extremely effectively. After further research and testing, some of which involved mirrors and a reflective baby pool in John’s backyard, they learned that the shape made it possible to create a very long focal length in a very small space. A longer focal length allows the user to see objects over greater distances. Usually, a longer focal length equates with a longer lens, which is why “zoom” camera lenses of 300mm or more are often elongated and heavy. The technology they discovered takes away the need for a lengthy lens while retaining the ability to see objects in the distance.
They’ve spent more than $3 million on development of the technology, which they call Blade Optics, and 18 months developing the DoubleTake. Daugela explains that the decision to focus the Blade Optics technology first on a half-camera, half-binocular product was a result of market research. “Market research showed many user groups wanted the long-range image quality and ruggedness of binoculars,” he says, “combined with the ability to easily capture and share high-quality images like a smartphone.” He thinks their core customer will stretch across a variety of audiences, including professional sport spectators who want to see the field in more detail, hikers and bird watchers who want to see scenery up-close and even police and security services.
NexOptic predicts the DoubleTake will be popular with outdoor enthusiasts and birdwatchersCredit: NexOptic Technology Corp.
As expected, the development, prototyping and testing processes were highly engineered affairs. “We were attempting to fit optics with the power of a 530mm focal length into a device that is only three inches deep,” says Daugela. “We spent a long time designing the perfect lens system for the device.” They tested various lens and optical configurations before finally landing on an arrangement inspired by telescopes. The first viable prototypes showed that the DoubleTake was able to clearly render a toothpick-sized object on the screen from 185 feet away - the distance of half a football field. That level of optical performance is possible because they source their lenses from the same company that makes much of the world's laser eye surgery instruments. During some stages of testing, the team flew to the Arizona desert to attempt to use the long-distance technology on a rather ambitious focal point: the moon.