Beginner’s Information Guide on Night Vision

By Alex
February 8, 2022

Night vision is superficially an ability to see in the dark. Humans have always been fascinated by the talents of nocturnal animals like bats and owls. However, rampant ambushes during battles in WWII made superpowers realize that night vision devices are a must. There have been so many scientific achievements by the virtue of WWII, and one of those achievements was night vision. Today, the technology has become quite advanced and within civilian reach. 

Even a common man can now click trendy photos on his smartphone in night mode. The night vision devices are now in their third generation, and they are much smaller and much more powerful now. With the right software support, people can now capture minute details in bare minimum lighting. If you want to know more about this, here is a beginner’s informative guide on night vision. 

Image Intensifiers vs Thermal vision 

There is a common misnomer today that night vision pertains to image intensifier devices and infrared vision pertains to thermal vision. When actually both these technologies fall under the blanket term of night vision. 

Image intensifier devices use a photochromic plate and a vacuum tube to intensify the meager number of photons. The intensified image is then displayed to the operator. The output image is brighter and encapsulates all the details in real-time. This technology is mostly used in night vision weapon scope to facilitate efficient hunting in low light. 

Thermal vision, on the other hand, uses a microbolometer sensor to map the temperature difference between the subject and the surrounding. This temperature difference then helps to present a heat map picture to the operator. 

These devices do not need any source of light to function, they work with infrared rays. Most armies use thermal vision technology in their night vision goggles to carry out search operations in dark spaces. 

What’s the Fuss About Auto-Gating 

We have discussed how image intensifiers function. Now, in an urban set up the number of available photons is high. Therefore, if the vacuum tubes function at the highest resolution, they will intensify every photon that passes through. 

This will white out the image output, and the image brightness can blind the operator. Therefore, to overcome this lacuna, some Generation 2+ and Generation 3 devices use auto-gating systems to cope with light fluctuations. 

This technology is based on adaptive functionality. Therefore, depending on the available light source, the device adjusts its resolution accordingly. 

Applications of Night Vision 

Up until the latter half of the 20th century, the application of night vision devices was restricted to military purposes. But with the growing infrastructure and expanding globalization, these devices were also made available for civilian purposes. 

Today, special forces teams of every country use this technology to carry out search operations in densely populated areas and conduct raids on dimly lit places. Additionally, law enforcement agencies use these devices for evidence recognition. 

If an object was touched by the suspect, the heat signatures remain for some time, which aids in pursuit. Similarly, people use a part of this technology for stargazing, nighttime photography, night fishing, etc. 

You can also use these devices if you have a plan to hike or trek in the dark. These are a few examples of applications of night vision devices. The possibilities with these devices are seamless. 

How to Check the Quality of These Devices 

Thermal devices are all about resolution, you won’t have to look anything beyond that. The highest available resolution on these devices is 640*480, which is close to high definition. However, you must take note of your specific requirements before opting for any particular resolution. 

Sometimes, the base resolution, i.e., 240X180 can also do the job. Remember that every resolution upgrade can put a burden on your pocket. For image intensifier devices you will have to look at the generation among other things. You can visit to read more about resolution and quality checks. 

The latest available devices are from Generation 3 today. However, you must also be mindful of the accessories you buy for your devices. Ensure that the gadgets you buy are compatible with the device, and don’t downgrade the quality. 

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