Night Vision & Computers: The Basics

Night VisionNight Vision Imaging System(NVIS) enables US military forces to enhance situational awareness, increase mission flexibility, and maintain battlefield dominance.  Also, night-vision goggles (NVG) are cool.  If you don’t believe me, buy one, show it to your friends, and see how quickly they try to grab it out of your hands.

No matter how cool NVG are, military personnel need to be able to use them with other equipment.  For example, depending on the intended application, computers must comply with aviation and Army night-vision specifications (the standards governing cockpit equipment and the units used by ground pounders are different).

Night-vision compatible computers must be simultaneously visible and not visible. The display should have a setting that enables visibility through NVG, but also have another setting that allows normal light use.  Visible light must be dimmed during night-vision mode, not only so the signal-to-noise ratio is reduced, but also so the enemy cannot see the computer.  To avoid detection by enemy NVG, a computer must filter its infrared and UV emissions as well as its visible light.

In order to meet military standards for night vision compatibility, there are two methods of decreasing the light emitted from a computer platform. The first method is to have a built-in switch that dims the keyboard and display.  In the photograph below, the switch is conveniently located in the front.

Night vision 2 Dimming switch

The second method of achieving night vision compatibility is to apply a special filter to the display.  Filters can be attached with snap-on clips or fastened with adhesive. The adhesive is not necessarily permanent; filters can be made so that they can be repeatedly removed and applied. Typically, all night vision compatible filters are green.

Night vision 3 filters

Of course, both the built-in and add-on filter methods can be simultaneously used. Each method of dimming emissions has their advantages and disadvantages (see chart below).

 Night Vision Filters vs. Built-in Dimming Switch

Night vision 4 Comparison

AMREL offers night vision compatible platforms that have been proven in the field by the German military. Whatever you require, AMREL has a great deal of experience in modifying computer platforms to meet military standards.