We are lucky to live in an interesting time of rapidly developing technologies. Scenes from science fiction films, with incredible lasers, Night Vision Devices and other futuristic technologies, now cause a good smile. Our children play with these technologies in children’s toys and it has become difficult to surprise us. Nevertheless, we will try to stir up your saturated of information minds and provide you with the latest developments in the field of Night Vision. To do this, we will look at what the US Marines are currently testing and explore all the possibilities of modern Night Vision.

Futuristic Night Vision.

We will consider the distant year 2000 as the starting point in this excursion. Then the AN / PVS-14 Night Vision Monocular made a breakthrough in night fight control. His image intensifier tube 3 generations, to this day, perfectly copes with most tasks. It is part of the equipment of most soldiers due to its availability, small size and ease of use. But its functions were clearly not enough and I really wanted to add comfort of use.

So the PVS-15 Night Vision Binoculars were born. He gave a wider viewing angle, improved the depth of perception of space. We highly value the life of each of our servicemen and therefore the FWS-I sight for a rifle was put into service. It allowed the soldier to aim from behind cover or an angle without directly putting the optic to the eye. It became possible to aim from the “knee” position. The data was transmitted directly to the Night Vision Goggles. The beginning of the symbiotic vision was laid. Further, the evolution of night vision went along the path of improving image quality, the correct parallel operation of night and infrared vision. Reducing weight, dimensions and energy costs has become a priority in the development of new models.

The first true symbiont was the AN/PSQ-20 (ENVG 1) Night Vision Monocular. He received the so-called Fusion Vision, where the idea of ​​​​night and Thermal Vision was realized in one product. It became possible to combine both images and get full control over the battlefield at any time of the day and in any weather. But the monocular was not popular. It was clearly heavier than the PVS-14 and quickly drained the battery.

It was supplanted by Night Vision Goggles (ENVG-B). At this stage, we observed the breakdown of the thinking paradigm. Until that moment, the soldier was not part of the communication system in the army. Coordination took place on the radio between the commanders. In fact, they could observe a small section of the battlefield. Aircraft, tanks, combat vehicles and infantry could only coordinate actions verbally, actually observing each other. All this required time to coordinate, clarify the situation, did not give accurate information in difficult weather conditions, and made it difficult to identify friends and foes. The army lost precious minutes and hours to manage the operation and reached parity with the enemy.

It is no secret that the rebels, the Taliban and terrorist organizations were buying up large quantities of night vision optics on the black markets, adding to it the trophy’s after the Afghan war. To maintain the US advantage on the battlefield, the engineers considered the soldier as part of a system that deserved the same close attention as a tank or aircraft. Each soldier became a part of the general large body of the army and increased its efficiency at times.

ENVG-B allowed each fighter to connect to a common information system that contains maps; weather reports; intelligence data; data from drones. The system is equipped with wireless communication, has access to the Internet and allows you to exchange data. In addition, Night Vision Goggles have augmented reality. All this wealth is accompanied by the highest quality image, consistently stable in changing weather, lighting or combat conditions. The contours of a person are brightly highlighted to avoid friendly fire. The gadget can operate in night, thermal or combined vision. Everyone can adjust the system to their vision parameters, anatomical features. If desired, you can apply filters and get a color picture at night. This function can be appreciated not only by scouts, but also by ordinary soldiers. For example, reading a map in near-total darkness is no longer a problem without the risk of being detected.

This system has successfully established itself as additional surveillance cameras in tanks, armored infantry vehicles, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, ships. Naturally, with its narrow specialization. For example, tankers have several such cameras that provide visibility without “blind spots”. Note that no camouflage, vegetation, smoke, sandstorm or snowstorm will be able to hide the enemy anymore. Communication is not just improved, it is visualized and occurs in real time, which undoubtedly gives advantages in positions. Each warrior clearly distinguishes his colleagues and equipment from the enemy.

Despite the fact that ENVG-B received the most ardent response from the Marines, we believe that the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) will push them off the pedestal. IVAS looks like a pilot’s mask, equipped with Night Vision, a Thermal Imager and an internal built-in screen. The prototype for this development was Google glasses. Microsoft is a developer and has made every effort to stuff the glasses to the maximum with the latest developments. Among them, we note: projecting a picture of the battle on the internal screen in night vision mode, combined mode; use of any color palette; multiple filters including color night vision; picture-in-picture mode; zoom function, highlighting the contours of subjects and terrain. Available rangefinder, automatic correction for wind speed and changing weather conditions. The glasses can communicate with the sight and project the image from the sight onto the screen. A fighter can shoot from any position, even from behind cover, without risking his life. Things like: a tablet, a map, a compass, a walkie-talkie, a range finder, ballistic glasses, a weather station are built into the glasses and this saves the weight of the equipment.

If necessary, you can get video from a drone, unmanned vehicle, aircraft or satellite in real time. Fighters can exchange video, audio and text files. Each commander are online sees where his fighters, up to the assessment of injuries and the need for evacuation, what is the situation around them. It is planned to equip all vehicles, from heavy to light, with the same systems. In addition, military bases, shelters, defense lines will also be equipped. This will give a 360-degree view around the clock, regardless of lighting and weather conditions. Mobile teams can monitor the situation at the facility, even when they are outside. Thus, even small groups can control a significant perimeter.

Augmented reality or a simulator deserves special attention, on the basis of which you can be trained. Your fantasies are no longer limited. Sitting in a trench, it is quite possible to master a paramedic course, hand-to-hand combat skills, aircraft driving, take a sapper course, or learn how to drive a tank. Internet access allows you to develop the necessary skills and respond flexibly to changing circumstances.

What’s next?

The future lies in maintaining a balance between weight, dimensions and capabilities. Probably, over time, Digital Night Vision Devices will replace optical ones. Packing information into small pixel volumes will fluctuate between screen resolution and pixel capacity. As long as the border is marked at 10 microns per pixel. This reduces the size of the sensors by 40%. By reducing the pixel size, we get a reduction in energy costs, therefore, reduce the weight of the battery. Along with this, there may be noise on the screen, which will significantly affect the quality of the picture. Most likely, we are on the verge of a change in materials or technologies will be completely replaced by something completely new.

Among the promising areas, the use of contact lenses with a built-in Night Vision Camera should be noted. So far, only rough prototypes exist, but mass production is definitely not far off.

Of the most incredible versions, there is evidence of a drug that affects the cells (cones and rods) in the human eye. Its action allows you to see in the dark, similar to nocturnal animals. The injection allows for some time to see perfectly in the dark without Night Vision Devices. Clinical trials on animals were successful and it’s up to the volunteers.

If we go completely into the realm of fantasy, then in the future it will be possible to adjust the human gene set in such a way that we get excellent night vision with perfect adaptation, like lions or tigers. Given the progress, this is more a matter of ethical handling of human embryos than a matter of the distant future.

Until we enter the incredible technologies of the future, the general trend in the production of Night Vision Devices is leaning towards the creation of a universal platform. It will be able to adapt to the needs of the user, depending on his tasks. This or that software will allow the use of devices everywhere, both in civilian life and for military needs. The equipment will be compatible with all devices wirelessly and most likely will have wireless charging. The dimensions and weight of the instruments will be minimized. Great importance will be given to the comfort of use and the degree of security.

Night Vision will allow infantry, artillery, unmanned aerial vehicles, aviation to operate as a single harmonious organism, supporting and strengthening the strengths of each type of troops and subunits. Naturally, this will affect the fighting qualities of the army, making it unsurpassed in terms of coherence and efficiency for conducting any type of operation.