You must have seen in some spy movie or a war scene, the greenish images of the field. Have you ever wondered what is it? Well, the images are a recreation of the world seen through a night vision device. Night vision technology has taken over the world in the last few decades. So, today we will learn all about it, how does night vision work, and what are its applications. So, let us begin!
How Does Night Vision Work?
Night Vision is truly like a superpower for us. But the question that bugs the commonality is the working mechanism of the night vision. In order to understand how night vision works, first, you must know that humans need some amount of ambient light to see. In cases of insufficient ambient light, humans are not able to see clearly. This is what happens at night, and this is when a night vision device comes in handy. The night vision amplifies the amount of ambient light present at the situation and makes it easy for us to see. If you study deeply about the night vision you will understand its basic principles. The night vision is a technology developed by harnessing two scientific marvels: Light Amplification and Thermal Imaging.
Let us understand both the concepts in detail to understand the mechanism of the night vision.
1. Light Amplification
The techniques of Light Amplification which is also known as the Image Enhancement technique is one of the greatest inventions of science. It has revolutionized the field of arms and military power. In this technique, a lens is used to capture the light reflected by celestial bodies like the moon or stars. The lens not only captures this light but also passes it through a tube called the Image Intensifier Tube. The tube has a photocathode attached to its inner side. When the captured light falls on the photocathode, the latter releases electrons.
The tube is layered with a compound that is photosensitive. The photosensitive compound that is present inside the tube helps in the cascading effect; that is, it converts each electron into several thousand. Moreso, there is a light-emitting chemical called phosphors at the end of the tube. As the light nears the end of this tube, it comes in contact with the phosphors. The role of these phosphors is to turn these electrons into photons. In order to do so, the phosphors create an image on the screen. This image is generally green in color. It has been found out in the research that a human mind is able to grasp and respond to green color very easily. Also, there is an ocular lens that magnifies and enhances the focus of the image.
If you are wondering about where this technology is used, this is the primary principle behind the operation of the early black and white television and computers.
2. Thermal Imaging
Thermal Imaging employs heat emitted by objects to its use. There is an infrared detecting device attached to it. This detector as the name suggests detects the infrared light. While detecting the infrared light, these detectors create a detailed temperature pattern of the objects. This temperature pattern is called Thermogram. The thermogram is then turned into electric impulses. These electrical impulses are transferred to a signal processing unit. Now that the signals are processed, these are sent to display the image.
The devices which are used for thermal imaging have a sensor installed in them. These sensors are called a microbolometer. A microbolometer is a device that is used to study the difference in temperature between an object and its environment. While doing so, it creates an image of the object. Once the analysis is done, the data from the microbolometer goes on to display the data so that the user can see the object.
Thermal imaging is a very trusted method. It is able to read any heat which is radiated from any object. The object may be anything like a rock, a truck, a building, or a human being. The image produced is similar to the one on a black-and-white television set.
How To Use Night Vision?
The history of humans harnessing the technology of night vision goes almost a century back to the 1930s. The technique was first developed by the military of Germany. It was soon followed and perfected by the army of the United States of America. Today the night vision is employed not only in manned but also in unmanned military gear such as drones, cameras, or even ammunition. It is an indispensable part of every soldier or pilot’s attire, in order to safeguard him/herself from attacks and/or attack with a perfect vision at night.
Although the technology was developed about a century ago, it was not until the 1950s that it came in vogue. The rise in its demand and usage can be attributed to the second world war. Even after that in the last 50 years, night vision has been redefined by the scientists. This technique has been perfected and is being used in creating products for helping common life. It has been made much more portable and now can be used in everyday equipment and devices.
However, to understand how to use night vision, you must understand the basic physiognomy and the concept of human vision. The technique of spectral range that is able to see at night can sense radiation that is invisible to a human observer. This is because human vision is limited. It can only perceive a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. If we try to increase our spectral range, we will be able to see the non-visible radiations like infrared or ultraviolet rays.
While humans can not see beyond their range without some additional help, it is very common for animals to do so. Almost all animals have better night vision in comparison to humans. The reason behind this is the differences in the anatomy of the eyes of animals and humans. Animals have a much larger eyeball, a bigger lens, a wider optical aperture, more rods than cones, and a tapetum lucidum. All these qualities enable animals to have a much better night vision than humans. Animals have a much wider spectral range of visible light. Some animals like mantis shrimp, trout, etc use the infrared/ultraviolet spectrum to see. Their vision without any question is way better and wider than humans.
But, we can successfully enhance the vision of humans with the help of the technology of night vision. We can increase the spectral intensity range with the help of an image intensifier, gain multiplication CCD, or any other photodetectors.
With the advancement of science and technology, humans have mastered many areas and overcome their flaws and limitations. Night vision is an example of the same quest for humans to conquer their limits. The technology of night vision has not only revolutionized the military but has been used in many fields to aid the life of the common people. The technology has been perfected and is toned down to meet some of the very commonplace demands of the people like in baby monitors, binoculars, hunting scopes, goggles and surveillance cameras, etc.
1. Night Vision Baby Monitors
One of the most required items of almost every household is a baby monitor. If you are a parent then you know what we are talking about. If you are not a parent you must have seen an old one from your or your siblings’ infancy. Well, baby monitors are the ultimate device to check up on your baby in his / her nursery from any part of the house. Before the invention of the baby monitor, it was a very difficult task to be at peace all the time leaving your children unattended in their nursery. With the baby monitor, it became very easy to keep a tab on the activities of your infant and to attend him/her when he/she needs you. However, there was just one problem with the device, the darkness. It was not able to show you the live video of the baby’s room after nap time. Slowly but significantly this problem was solved by the night vision technology.
The baby monitors nowadays come with a night vision mode. You just need to switch it on after lights out and you will get to see a very clear view of the baby and the room.
2. Night Vision Binoculars
One of the most sought after night vision devices is the night vision binoculars. The night vision binocular has a multitude of applications right from the field of law enforcement, to hunting, from recreation to navigation. These binoculars are much in demand among wildlife experts, photographers, hunters, etc.
The night vision binoculars are optoelectronic devices. These devices produce images by an amalgamation of both visible light and near-infrared. However, the images produced by night vision binoculars are monochrome. These are greenish in color.
As we have already discussed that the advent of the night vision technology was during and due to the second World War. But it has come a far way along since. The evolution in the night vision technology and its subsequent usage in day to day objects are categorized as ‘generations’. When it comes to night vision binoculars, it is advisable to go for a first-generation binocular if you intend to just watch the nightlife of the wild. But, if you are a hunter you should buy second generation binoculars.
3. Night Vision Hunting Scope
For those of you who do not know what is a hunting scope, let us clear it out first. A hunting scope or scope is a telescopic sight. It is commonly known as a scope. As the name is pointing out, a scope is an optical sighting device. It is built on the principle of refraction. The scopes are generally laced with graphic imaging, to provide a clear target. These are used as an extra aid to almost all hunting devices but are most popularly paired with rifles.
Now that you understand the usage of a scope, you must have gotten the idea about the role of a night vision scope.
A night vision scope is simply put, a hunting telescopic sight equipped with the night vision technology. It is essentially helpful for the hunters who hunt at night. The night vision hunting scope shows the target on the screen clearly. The major difference between a normal scope and a night vision hunting scope is that you can not use the normal hunting scope at night. Also, the normal hunting scope shows the graphic image or patterns of the target but a night vision hunting scope clearly shows the target and hence is much easier and convenient to use.
4. Night Vision Goggles
Now you are familiar with the working principle of night vision technology. So, it is fair to not discuss it again. The night vision goggles like any other night vision device are based on the principles of image enhancement and thermal imaging. The night vision goggles are basically similar to the night vision binoculars in structure. The feature that differentiates the night vision goggles from the night vision binoculars is that the night vision goggles have two eyepieces. The night vision goggles may also have both a single or stereo lens. Although the night vision goggles could be held in hands, people tend to wear them on their heads. The night vision goggles are best suited for vigilance at night. The night vision goggles enable you to see up to 200 yards that are; approximately 183 meters in the dark.
5. Night Vision Camera
Cameras play a significant role in the life of modern man. Whether to capture a precious moment or to remember a scene or to gather some ocular proof, cameras are useful in all situations. The technology has come so far that today we have exceptionally small and handy cameras. Cameras are also laden with unique and latest features to enhance the experience of the user. One such excellent technology fused in today’s camera is the night vision. The night vision cameras are majorly used for two purposes :
- Wildlife Photography
- Security Cameras
The night vision surveillance cameras have become one of the most essential items in our life. The surveillance cameras laced with the night vision are a boon to mankind. These have boosted the security systems a lot. Whether it is the security of your houses, shops, streets, banks, offices, or property, the night vision cameras provide upgraded security especially at times we need it the most: night.
The quality of a night vision camera to be able to see and record in low darkness helps in round the clock surveillance. The night vision surveillance cameras have helped in strengthening the law and order as it captures the videos of all activities 24×7 which provides aid to the authorities. There are three types of night vision security surveillance cameras:
Low-light security cameras use image intensifiers. The image intensifiers make the best out of minimum light. These cameras are able to work with low light and capture clear pictures and videos. The low light security surveillance cameras are one of the cheapest and most commonly used night vision surveillance devices used by people.
As we now know, thermal imaging is another major principle on which the night vision devices work. The thermal imaging technique uses temperature instead of light to create images. The thermal imaging cameras work on the amount of infrared radiation emitted by an object due to heat. More the temperature, the more the infrared emission, thus clearer the picture. One question that may arise here is what if the temperature is low? Will this camera be able to produce images in cold temperatures? In cold temperatures, the camera produces black images. While in higher temperatures it produces white pictures.
The infrared cameras are most commonly used in home security. These cameras use the infrared light and motion detection technique to capture images. Whenever there is motion within its range, the motion detectors sense it and activate the infrared lights sensors. The infrared light sensor then emits the infrared lights and the camera captures a clear image even in the dark. It is an economic option as it saves power. It produces black and white videos and images but the quality of both is excellent.
Three Best Night Visions You Can Buy
As we have told you all about the military as well as the common usage of the night vision, you must have gotten an understanding of the same. Well, one thing that you should never forget is that the night vision that is used by us in common devices like baby monitors, cameras, goggles, etc are way lower in quality than the night vision used in military equipment. So, in this section, we will tell you about the three most popular night vision products available to common people. You can buy all the following products on amazon.
1. SIONYX Aurora Black
- THE WORLD'S MOST ADVANCED COLOR NIGHT VISION MONOCULAR - Ultra low-light IR sensor technology made...
- COMES WITH PICATINNY RAIL MOUNT - Weapon-rated at M4 223/5.56 (4000r). 1/4”-20 standard mount....
- LONG RANGE IR NIGHT VISION IN MONOCHROME OR COLOR - Near moonless starlight capable for peerless...
The SiOnyx Aurora Black is an action camera with a color night vision. Mostly liked by hunters, fishermen, navigators, or private investigators, the Aurora Black is truly a masterpiece. It has a low light sensor with a 1-inch optical format. It has an expandable memory of up to 32 GB. Aurora Black is a lightweight, easy to carry the device. It weighs only 8 ounces. It is waterproof.
- Infrared sensing technology
- Capable of working in low lights
- A night vision scope
- Easily convertible into the night vision binoculars
- Capable of producing images in monochrome as well as in color.
- 16mm f/1.4, f2.0, f5.6 lens.
- Compatible with smart devices
- Ideally suited for the trail, hunting, boating, navigation, etc.
- Dimensions: 4.69 x 2.52 x 2.09 in
- Weight: 3.52 ounce
- Model Number: CDV-200C
- Batteries: 1 Lithium ion
- Rating: 4.2 out of 5
- Warranty: 2 years
2. ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope
- Ultra HD Sensor - Ultra HD 4K Sensor with our Obsidian 4 Dual Core Processor brings you cutting edge...
- Ballistic Calculator - Hunt responsibly by making sure your shot hits the target Each and Every...
- Dual Stream Video Recording - You asked and we listened X-Sight 4K PRO not only Streams Video to...
X-Sight 4K PRO is the answer to all your hunting needs. It is powered by a dual-core processor and possesses a low light 4K sensor. It has a ballistic calculator to improve the accuracy of your shots. ATN X-Sight 4K PRO offers a dual recording option. The night vision makes it the ultimate equipment for nighttime hunting. The automatic mode enables the X-Sight 4K PRO to record the video before and after the shot. It has a durable battery designed for prolonged hours of usage.
- Comes with an ultra HD 4K sensor.
- Obsidian 4 Dual Core Processor
- High resolution, vibrant colors and better images
- Comes with a Ballistic Calculator to determine the accuracy of each shot by keeping external factors like range, wind, angle, temperature humidity, etc in mind.
- Accurate in distant shots
- It has a dual-stream video recording
- The night vision mode offers an enhanced quality image during the dark.
- Highly efficient and long-lasting batteries
- The auto setting enables the scope to record on its own before and after shooting.
- Dimensions: 13.8 x 3 x 3 inches
- Weight: 2.1 Pounds
- Brand Name: ATN
- Color: Black
- Material: Aluminum
- Style: 3-14x
- Warranty: 2 years
3. ANIMATE Digital
- High quality color screen: This unique baby monitor features a High Resolution Display with 2x zoom...
- High definition night vision & temperature monitoring: This baby monitor with camera has 8 infrared...
- Two way talking & long transmission range: The video monitor covers a transmission range of up to...
The ANIMATE Digital baby monitor comes with a high quality colored screen. It has an LCD display. It has a 2x zoom feature for elaborate display. The screen size is 2.4 inches. It is a high-resolution screen that is capable of live streaming. The monitor consists of 8 infrared LED lights to watch the baby 24×7. It has an automatic temperature monitor as well as a built-in night vision.
The monitor allows you to engage in two-way communication with your child. You can also play some lullabies to calm your baby. The monitor gets uninterrupted transmission up to 960 feet.
- 2.4 inch HD LCD Display
- Secure Connection
- 2.4GHz Digital wireless audio and video transmission
- Long-range – 960 ft (approximately)
- Two-way communication
- ECO mode
- Voice activation
- Infrared night vision
- Alarm / Timer Setting
- Dimensions: 3.03 x 6.22 x 8.62 in
- Weight: 14.9 ounce
- Model Number: SM24
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It is always fun to use the night vision technology but now you know how it works and its usage. The night vision technology is a boon to mankind. It is one significant step towards overcoming the limitations of our race. It must be used wisely and for the common good.