What do you get when you take Go-Pro portability and marry it with a military-grade night-vision goggle? The SiOnyx Aurora, that’s what. And it’s a game changer. Night vision isn’t a new concept, but the method that SiOnyx uses certainly is. With proprietary technology, this company has charted new waters by making its products available to the public for the first time. When discussing this little gem with fellow boaters – a 4 x 16 monocular, a 10-micron pixel 720p digital camera, night-vision capable, stabilized, including a GPS and digital compass – we always ask, "How much do you think it sells for?" The answer is always in the area of $1,500 - $2,000. Not even close... and the actual answer will surprise you. It sure surprised us.
SiOnyx is a semi-conductor company that produces image sensors for commercial and defense applications. It developed the one the Aurora uses to make a hand-held device that works exceptionally well both in very low light, and with infra-red light. There’s a high-quality OLED display inside the unit making it equally ideal for vision assistance. Oh, and it’s water resistant to 3’ (.91 m).
We got our hands on the Aurora and asked if it had any practical applications beyond the “cool party gadget” and it took only one evening to answer the question. We took one of our test boats out for an evening dinner (I know, sucks to be us…), dropped the hook and took the dinghy to the restaurant. After a pleasant evening of dinner and drinks (non-alcoholic, I swear), we went back outside to a pitch dark, moonless night. Only now, the once empty anchorage was full of boats, all with similar silhouettes. And since this wasn’t our boat, we weren’t as intimate with her individual profile, especially among dozens of others that were now scattered about. Out came the Aurora.
We spotted our boat within seconds, and even used it for guidance right to the swim platform. Once aboard, the battery switch location was also easily located the same way and now we had light onboard. Score, SiOnyx Aurora 2… human eyes… 0! All in the course of 15 minutes.
The more we used this thing, the more we liked it. It syncs with your smartphone over Wi-Fi, providing 15 FPS live view and full controllability of all the unit’s functionality. In other words, you can mount this on the rail, and be back in the cockpit controlling it from the helm making this unit a suitable substitute for a $20,000 FLIR camera, minus the tilt and pan feature of course. And click off pictures of whatever you see with its 720p camera.
Speaking of FLIR, the base functionality of those units is thermal… it’s spotting temperature differences between the atmosphere and the boat, or the motor, the people in the water. They’re low resolution by regulation, and they’re costly. With the Aurora, the OLED display is hi-res, the unit includes a digital compass, and GPS works on infra-red, not thermal. And we’re still not scratching the total capabilities of this beauty.
Ok, now you answer the question for us… how much? If you’re like the others we asked and came up with a price well into four figures, then you might want to sit down because your holiday shopping just got a little easier.
This multi-faceted device retails for only $799, including battery, lanyard, and carry bag. Even if it only did the monocular functionality, we’d pay that. Add in the many other features, several of which we haven’t even discussed yet, and it goes from a bargain to a steal. We’ll have a more in-depth review of this unit in the future, but for now... have yourself a merry little Christmas.
*** The SiOnyx Aurora is 20% off through Cyber Monday, 11/26! ($639 USD) ***