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The goal is to design night vision gear that is smaller and lighter than night vision goggles (NVG). “While the resolution and contrast of these NVG has improved, progress has been very slow to decrease their weight and size while increasing the field of view,” according to the DARPA small business innovation research (SBIR) solicitation.
“The awkward, intrusive and cumbersome procedures for mounting, removal and/or holding these devices for the soldier can impair their ability to perform basic tasks and operations,” DARPA said. “Frequent usage of current NVGs increases the risk for short-term and long-term neck injuries, due to weight and form factor.”
DARPA also wants to bring night vision into the Digital Age. Analog night goggles lack the ability to share data.
The DARPA solicitation — which lists Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as the acquisition organization — wants night vision gear with multiple capabilities. These include short-wave or broad-band infrared cameras that don’t require cooling, clip-on infrared weapons illuminators and pointers, and see-through augmented reality heads-up displays. The device must be able to instantly switch from daylight to infrared imagery as lighting changes, as when a soldier moves from a sunny street into a darkened house.
DARPA also wants the night vision gear to resemble commercial sunglasses or eyeglasses, run for 24 hours without recharge, and cost less than $5,000.