Big things are happening in the world of scopes and optics, and a company called Sandia National Labs is behind it. In development for nearly a decade now, the company has been working on a push-button scope, using a series of flexible polymer lenses, to replicate the human eye. This will allow a soldier to change magnification without changing hand position, or looking away from a target.

“The impetus behind the idea of push-button zoom is you can acquire what you’re interested in at low magnification and, without getting lost, zoom in for more clarity,” said Brett Bagwell, an optical engineer who is the project leader at Sandia labs, and former Special Forces in the US Army.

It’s called the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles, or RAZAR, and its double lenses have two components. The first is a tough membrane that is used to encapsulate the second component, a liquid polymer held within it. Each of the two lenses sits inside of a ring used to compress the polymer, which increases or decreases the curvature of the sight elements, and thus the focus. The rings themselves are operated by ultrasonic piezoelectric motors, which are quite similar to those used in the auto-focus on most cameras.

“The guys picked it up and when they pushed the button and it zoomed, and then instantly it zoomed back out, they were like kids at Christmas. There was this look of astonishment and pleasure,” said the former Green Beret sergeant. “That’s very gratifying. Here’s this grizzled veteran looking at me like I’ve just created magic.”

For much more  information on this game changing technology, go check out the information page at Sandia Labs. Of note, the science behind RAZAR is not only of use in the military, but nearly all optics applications.

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