When night vision goggles (NVG) were invented in the early 1930s, there was a lot of skepticism by military officials about whether this night vision device would be helpful in the combat field. But today, it's easy to see NVG's lasting impact on history as they are part of many US military uniforms.
More impressive, though, is that this night vision technology has developed to include augmented reality capabilities. The latest models, ENVG-B's, are impressing both military personnel and the public with their enhancements.
Curious about what makes these goggles so groundbreaking? Keep reading to learn more about this new night vision technology coming to the US military and how it's enhancing operations.
What's the Difference Between Traditional Night Vision Goggles and Augmented Reality NVG?
Traditional night vision goggles and traditional monocular goggles were developed during World War II for military applications. These night vision devices allowed both German and American soldiers to see better in the dark, giving soldiers an advantage on the battlefield.
However, like all technology from this time, they had their limitations:
The first NVG design did not perform well in bright environments. If an explosion happened, soldiers were blinded, which defeated the purpose of wearing this night vision device.
A traditional night vision device also displayed green-washed imagery that leads to eyestrain and fatigue. The green-washed imagery was due to the green phosphor tubes used in these traditional monocular goggles and binocular goggles.
The first NVG may have been an advancement at the time, but military personnel began to realize that soldiers needed more precise vision.
However, the newest ENVG-B's are delivering on this promise and more. Here's how.
Augmented Reality Breakthroughs
Augmented reality has been a hot topic along with the rise of virtual reality technology, particularly as it has integrated with military technology. In 2021, the ENVG-B models are proving that augmented reality drastically improves combat.
In the 20th century, soldiers had just light pouring into the goggle filters to guide their way. Now, their view is impacted by a digital compass that appears in the top right corner of the glass.
This technology also makes it possible to create customized images/projections on a soldier's display for training purposes. For example, military personnel can display foreign objects like weapons and simulate humans and animals to prepare soldiers for several real-life combat scenarios.
ENVG's have always been suited for night use, but now today's ENVG-B goggles provide clearer vision in daylight. The technology also enhances vision in smoke, low light areas, and even bad weather.
What's the difference? Developers replaced green imagery with white phosphor tubes, which use a white outline to increase contrast. See for yourself: the army recently revealed new footage of the improved image display and how the white phosphor tubes improve the perception of shapes and action.
Additionally, the fused thermal imager enables the user to have better target recognition in degraded environments, and the ENVG-B's are designed like binoculars to improve depth perception and increase view width.
During times when radio silence is required for a military operation, the Nett Warrior system allows soldiers to communicate and share data on a larger scale through a dual multi-band radio system.
Who Is Getting This New Night Vision Technology?
The US Army currently has a contract with the international high technology company L3Harris Technologies to continue developing this newly designed night vision technology for immediate. The company recently announced being awarded $100 million to produce a second round of ENVG-B's, so you can expect widespread use throughout the military.
However, the US Army might not only be the only recipient of this technology; it could be available to the public. Although unconfirmed, it's possible that this technology could lead to technology that's intended specifically for civilian use within the next few years.
How Much Do They Cost?
As of right now, this device can cost anywhere from 7,500 to 11,800 US dollars. However, several other competitors have stepped up and developed similar technology, selling their goggles to the army and hoping to get in on military demand. We expect this booming market to impact the price of each ENVG-B in the near future.
Are the ENVG-B's Worth the Hype?
Night vision technology has advanced far beyond what many people originally thought possible. Now, with the ability to have a white outline allowing for a clearer and crisper vision using the white phosphor tubes, in addition to the improved Nett Warrior system for intensely better communication, US troops safe will enjoy much more efficient and safe operations.
While nothing has been confirmed, it's possible with the popularity of commercial night vision products for hunters that this technology will make its way into civilian products. If it does, we can confirm that it will be worth the hype.