News | Jun 27, 2019

Battle Sight scoops up second infrared tech from Air Force Research Lab

Express licensing allows businesses fast access to inventions

Afghan and coalition force members are silhouetted by moonlight during an operation in Andar district, Ghazni province in 2013.

Codie Mendenhall/Army

To expand its product line, Dayton startup Battle Sight Technologies is developing additional signaling tools for nighttime military operations after acquiring a second patent license related to infrared chemiluminescence.

The IP licensed was developed by a team at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate including Dr. Larry Brott who discovered methods for extending the working life of chemiluminescent materials.

Brott was co-inventor of the first tech licensed by Battle Sight President Nick Ripplinger and developed into the CrayTrac, a pressure-activated marker that allows troops to leave each other written messages in low-light or no-light conditions (with or without night vision devices).

“We plan on making several products based off the core licensed technology such as patches, tapes, molded parts all to support the friend/foe mission sets and additional low-light/no-light communication on the battlefield and training environments,” Ripplinger said in an email to TechLink on Thursday.

Ripplinger refers to the markings that soldiers attach to their uniforms and kit. To prevent fratricide, U.S. forces have long taped chemiluminescent glow sticks to vehicle antennas or sewn glow-in-the-dark patches and reflective swatches to their helmets and packs (known as cat eyes) in an attempt to identify their location to friendly ground forces and aircraft.

Friend or foe identification becomes particularly important when troops are partnering with foreign armies, rebels, or ununiformed militias using civilian trucks.

The startup closed on its first patent license agreement in 2017. The company set up a manufacturing facility and signed an international distribution agreement.

In March, the Air Force awarded Battle Sight $165,000 to continue developing products, according to the Dayton Daily News.

The small company, now employing four people, is also engaged in a collaborative research project with the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Florida.

Battle Sight’s latest patent license agreement was noticed in the Federal Register last month as partially exclusive.

It was facilitated by the Air Force’s express licensing platform hosted by TechLink, which features pre-determined upfront fees and royalty rates.

Sunita Chavan, who leads the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate’s Technology Transfer Office, describes it as “one-stop shopping.” She said the storefront-like format and user-friendly process make Air Force technologies available to companies large and small while eliminating the difficulties associated with government patent licensing, like lengthy contract negotiations.

“Through express tech licensing, we make it easy not only to find out what technologies are available but also to learn about pre-negotiated terms and pricing. There is total transparency. If a business is interested in entering into a licensing agreement, they can fill out an easy application,” Chavan said.

Ripplinger confirmed that his patent license application was “turned around almost instantly.”

“The next steps for us is to validate the chemistry, produce prototypes, and field test with end-users,” he said.