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Ultra-Thin Night Vision System in the Works

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 20 comments

For Sam Fisher fans or master stalkers: scientists have developed a thin film that converts infrared light into its visible counterpart. The promise? Cell phones, eyeglasses, and even windshields with cheap, low-power, and lightweight night vision.

The development, funded by DARPA, is the brainchild of a team based in the University of Florida. This thin-film night vision is based on technology already found on flat screen TVs. The system replaces the glass and vacuum found in current-generation night vision goggles, using "energy efficient organic LEDs" instead.

This substitution is what made the development team's proof of concept, a device weighing less than a quarter-pound powered by up to five volts of electricity. The implemented version would weigh less than a deck of cards and be several microns thick, according to team lead Franky So.

Timeline for perfecting the device is about 18 months. The team is also developing thin film that can detect heat, citing car windshields that detect astray pedestrians as a sample beneficial use. While portable night vision definitely has industrial or military applications, let's hope a watered-down version hits the commercial market soon.

Night Vision Coming Soon to Cell Phones, Eyeglass (Photo from kinsiekins' Flickr)

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    pooflinger1 , April 28, 2010 4:21 PM
    I could see a lot of benefit being on car windshields... Paint the roads with UV reactive paint and you won't have disappearing markers when it's raining at night.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    scione , April 28, 2010 4:19 PM
    thats awesome, i cant wait to see what technology is like in five or ten years from now
  • 7 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , April 28, 2010 4:19 PM
    Well now, that is something worth waiting for! Something that actually is beneficial! A breakthrough! Not some over-hyped gadget that has no real world benefit. SweeT!
  • Display all 20 comments.
  • 13 Hide
    pooflinger1 , April 28, 2010 4:21 PM
    I could see a lot of benefit being on car windshields... Paint the roads with UV reactive paint and you won't have disappearing markers when it's raining at night.
  • -2 Hide
    sunflier , April 28, 2010 4:26 PM
    If my windshield has this do I still need to drive with my headlights on at night.
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2010 4:35 PM
    Uh, Oh....

    Remember the Sony HandyCam Super Night Vision fiasco?

    Well, if this product gets incorporated into our windshields, then you can bet your bottom dollar that there'll be a big uproar when people all of a sudden realize that it's like looking through X-Ray vision goggles when driving at night time through the city.

    Either there'll be a lot of accidents or we'll start seeing a new line of clothing that'll promise to shield your body from prying eyes.
  • 8 Hide
    dman3k , April 28, 2010 4:45 PM
    And we'll be getting x-ray glasses when???
  • 4 Hide
    matt314 , April 28, 2010 4:49 PM
    ^+1
    I'd buy those.
  • 2 Hide
    bobusboy , April 28, 2010 4:58 PM
    nightvision is infrared not UV FYI, and xray hardly, different materials have different IR emission rates which makes them appear brighter or darker, this is the kind of night vision you're going to be seeing.

    ie. skin emits 98 and cotton is 54, but electrical tape is 97 (higher the value the brighter it appears on the screen.)
  • 1 Hide
    joebob2000 , April 28, 2010 5:15 PM
    Renegade_WarriorUh, Oh....Remember the Sony HandyCam Super Night Vision fiasco?Well, if this product gets incorporated into our windshields, then you can bet your bottom dollar that there'll be a big uproar when people all of a sudden realize that it's like looking through X-Ray vision goggles when driving at night time through the city.Either there'll be a lot of accidents or we'll start seeing a new line of clothing that'll promise to shield your body from prying eyes.


    So few people look better through an IR camera than they do in visible light that I doubt this will catch on. It's like saying the airport guards are going to be ogling the full body scanners as women go through; you need to be a special sort of weird to even prefer the scanner version to ogling the real thing.
  • 0 Hide
    Regulas , April 28, 2010 6:07 PM
    Cool, smart-phones are slowly turning into tri-corders (Star Trek)
  • 0 Hide
    ravewulf , April 28, 2010 6:14 PM
    sunflierIf my windshield has this do I still need to drive with my headlights on at night.

    Yes. Even if you could see perfectly, other's can't see you coming (especially pedestrians).
  • 1 Hide
    counselmancl , April 28, 2010 6:16 PM
    I'm hoping that the not watered down version hits the market sometime soon.
  • -2 Hide
    steiner666 , April 28, 2010 6:27 PM
    this will be great to help with collisions with ppl, pets, deer and other wildlife. finally a worthwhile invention.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2010 7:19 PM
    bobusboynightvision is infrared not UV FYI, and xray hardly, different materials have different IR emission rates which makes them appear brighter or darker, this is the kind of night vision you're going to be seeing. ie. skin emits 98 and cotton is 54, but electrical tape is 97 (higher the value the brighter it appears on the screen.)

    The mention of X-ray is just a reference pertaining to the seeming effects of being able to see through ones clothing. It has nothing to do with actual X-Rays. Also nothing was ever mentioned or inferred about UV rays either.

    joebob2000So few people look better through an IR camera than they do in visible light that I doubt this will catch on. It's like saying the airport guards are going to be ogling the full body scanners as women go through; you need to be a special sort of weird to even prefer the scanner version to ogling the real thing.

    It was a light hearted joke or don't you remember your history?

    Look up the Sony HandyCam Super Night Vision incidents and you'll see what I am referring to.

    The images from the Sony HandyCam Super Night Vision are no comparision to that of the airport secuirty scanners.
    Sony was forced to stop producing the Super Night Vision in their HandyCams because of the fact that they used the Infrared spectrum and were strong enough where they could violate one's privacy, providing someone was lightly dressed. Plus the fact that this feature was being abused on public beaces and other places with the videos ending up online.

    So if one was to provide the Auto Industry with windshields that have a coating which converts the InfraRed spectrum to visable light, strong enough to drive at night with out the need for headlights, then you would most probably have privacy rights activists up in arms for the very same reason that the Super Night Vision was removed from the Sony HandyCam.

    Privacy Rights activists wouldn't care whether or not people with clothes on would look good or not through the IR spectrum. All they would care about is the possible invasion of privacy.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2010 8:20 PM
    I wonder how many Chinese are going to get caught smuggling this out of the country?

  • 2 Hide
    alextheblue , April 28, 2010 11:02 PM
    sunflierIf my windshield has this do I still need to drive with my headlights on at night.
    Only if you don't want other cars to hit you. :/ 
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2010 12:26 AM
    I'm sure parking (running) lights would still be required.

    Besides that, the heat from the engine compartment alone would provide enough IR light to light up the other vehicle when converted to visible light.

    Although with Electric vehicles, I don't know if they would want to use IR emitters or head lamps to light up the road ahead of the vehicle.
  • 0 Hide
    shin0bi272 , April 29, 2010 2:20 AM
    Im curious to see this in action. Thinking of the stealth issues that a thin film light amplification screen would cause. Now if you look at someone with NVGs on you dont see 2 large green glowing green dots in the dark (meaning: its not like in video games where they make a noise and glow so you can see the enemy).. but if there is a thin film screen style it will be on something like the ski goggles they issue to the army now and you'll be able to see a large green screen running around in the dark... that can get soldiers shot. Of course they could implement them in a camera and eye piece combo with the eyepiece being surrounded by plastic and swiveling over the eye like in the land warrior system.
  • 0 Hide
    jsc , April 29, 2010 5:02 AM
    A lot of potential here. And if you can do this with infrared, a similar approach ought to work with ultraviolet.
  • 0 Hide
    elcentral , April 29, 2010 9:21 AM
    if you get a realy good light from this it can save meny life at night out on the higway and out on those dangerus crapy roads.
    can you fit this on orenary glasses ? then got ir light alower your bodey?
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