Magazine article National Defense

Special Operators to Test Digital Night Vision Goggles

Magazine article National Defense

Special Operators to Test Digital Night Vision Goggles

Article excerpt

Troops currently rely on analog night vision goggles that use image intensifier tubes to amplify existing light, but new digital goggles and cameras are finally making their way into the hands of special operators and pilots.

Intevac, a Santa Clara, Calif-based photonics company, is undergoing a limited user evaluation in which Special Operations Command will compare its legacy analog devices with digital night vision goggles.

The switch from analog to digital promises a host of new capabilities, including the ability to send images and video over a network and to better fuse thermal and image intensified sensors.

While legacy image intensifier devices become oversaturated when used in bright light, Intevac's goggles can work in daylight conditions.

"You can imagine the advantage for a guy busting down the door wearing goggles and the light comes on. Historically, he'll be blinded ... and all he sees is a green screen. With this, you will actually see what's there," said Drew Brugal, the company's executive vice president and general manager.

Intevac's digital night vision cameras and goggles use an electron bombarded active pixel sensor, or EBAPS, which contains a "photocathode" that takes available light and magnifies it two to three hundred times, said Bill Maffucci, vice president and general manager for mission systems.

Other digital night vision sensors cannot amplify light, he said. "In other words, when you're in low-level light conditions, they work with the light that's available, but they're not able to increase the sensitivity at all. …

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