DARPA is starting a program to develop a new multispectral Enhanced Night Vision (ENVision) system for the military that replaces today’s heavy night-vision goggles with ones that are as light and compact as a pair of eyeglasses.
Night-vision devices were first developed before the Second World War, but only became practical in the 1960s. Since then, they have revolutionized warfare by effectively eliminating the cover of darkness as protection for a hostile force. Where once aircraft and ground troops were effectively nullified by the fall of night, pilots and soldiers can now operate as if it was high noon.
However, the technology is far from mature even after four or five development generations. The devices have become more sophisticated and sensitive, with the capability to see across more of the infrared spectrum as well as seeing heat signatures, but night-vision goggles remain bulky and heavy, with a field of vision that’s a third that of the naked eye.