Skip to main content

Military Requests Heat Vision Cellphones

The request stated, "This program addresses the development of low cost room temperature infrared (IR) cameras based upon cell phone CMOS camera technology model, where the imaging sensor, optics and electronics are fabricated at the wafer level."

The objective of their solicitation is to conquer one of the important shortfalls of our arsenal of military equipment. The U.S. military currently lacks a cheap and efficient, individualized and mobile form of heat vision to detect enemies in low visibility environments.

Darpa hopes to create a thermal camera that may be mounted on a gunsight or a vehicle dashboard. Another goal is to put a thermal camera on a small handheld platform such as a cellphone. Unfortunately for the soldiers, taking your cell phone out and turning on the heat vision app may not be the most time-efficient method of detecting enemies.  

In addition to these ambitious goals, the Department of Defense also states that the resolution of the thermal vision cameras must ultimately aid in the "identification" of the objects it views. Darpa asserts that the sensors must allow users to identify the target as well as if that target is of any immediate threat by detecting weapons, vehicles or other military equipment.

Unfortunately this may not solve the problem of differentiating allies from enemies but Darpa hopes it's a start. in addition to the military applications of cellphone thermal imaging, Darpa has also considered the commercial benefits of their development. “If successful, the IR [infrared] cellphone camera-like approach will lead to widespread proliferation in military and consumer products,” Darpa added. “Similar to visible cameras, the IR cellphone camera products will lead to a continued quest for improved cost-efficiency in various manufacturing methodologies, making it more attractive in the commercial sectors.”

With solicitations like these, the government is getting closer and closer to standardizing smartphones and tablets into the military. In the recent years, many military groups such as the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), have been dedicating a number of resources to the development of military applications of smartphones and tablets.