Military

DARPA program seeks night-vision goggles as light and compact as glasses

DARPA program seeks night-visi...
DARPA is launching a program to slim down night-vision eyewear from the bulky goggles in use today (pictured above)
DARPA is launching a program to slim down night-vision eyewear from the bulky goggles in use today (pictured above)
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DARPA is launching a program to slim down night-vision eyewear from the bulky goggles in use today (pictured above)
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DARPA is launching a program to slim down night-vision eyewear from the bulky goggles in use today (pictured above)
The ENVision program seeks to make night-vision eyewear with a wider field of view that is as lightweight as regular glasses
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The ENVision program seeks to make night-vision eyewear with a wider field of view that is as lightweight as regular glasses

DARPA is starting a program to develop a new multispectral Enhanced Night Vision (ENVision) system for the military that replaces today's heavy night-vision goggles with ones that are as light and compact as a pair of eyeglasses.

Night-vision devices were first developed before the Second World War, but only became practical in the 1960s. Since then, they have revolutionized warfare by effectively eliminating the cover of darkness as protection for a hostile force. Where once aircraft and ground troops were effectively nullified by the fall of night, pilots and soldiers can now operate as if it was high noon.

However, the technology is far from mature even after four or five development generations. The devices have become more sophisticated and sensitive, with the capability to see across more of the infrared spectrum as well as seeing heat signatures, but night-vision goggles remain bulky and heavy, with a field of vision that's a third that of the naked eye.

The weight is a particular problem because the goggles are usually on a helmet mount where they stick out about five inches (12 cm) and put a great deal of strain on the user's neck. This is made worse by the narrow field of vision that requires frequent head turns over the course of several hours.

The ENVision program seeks to make night-vision eyewear with a wider field of view that is as lightweight as regular glasses
The ENVision program seeks to make night-vision eyewear with a wider field of view that is as lightweight as regular glasses

DARPA's new ENVision program looks to use the latest advances in photonics and optical materials by the agency's Defense Sciences Office (DSO) to replace the complex electronics with a single flat lens. This would involve using planar optics, new light detection materials, and light-matter interactions. In addition, the program will look at ways to use thin materials to directly convert photons from the infrared to the visible band of the spectrum instead of using a vision processing system.

"This will further simplify NVG systems by advancing from the multi-step conversion currently used to a single step up-conversion process," says Rohith Chandrasekar, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. "Some of these processes even conserve the momentum of photons, which, in theory, could enable night vision without the need for any optics."

DARPA is holding a webinar for the project as part of a Proposers Day on January 21, 2021.

Source: DARPA

5 comments
5 comments
NightVisionGoogles
Bulky night vision googles.
paul314
They could also potentially rethink the part where the optics have to be right in front of the user's eyes. All you need there is the display part. And if you want to take advantage of other information, you'll need a display in any case.
guzmanchinky
Very cool concept. But does it seem like the picture shows about 6 places the soldier could get hit with a projectile that would end his or her life? Someday we will look back at that and it will look like the gear they used in WW1 compared to the full body armor/helmet they will come up with someday...
Username
Darpa needs to be more ambitious and request night sight contact lenses!
ljaques
Darpa needs to be more ambitious and request neural night sight links which display right in the brain!