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Oct 09, 2023 | 05:40 pm 264 0

Night vision devices, smartphones, and laptops - new opportunities


Night vision devices, smartphones, and laptops - new opportunities

We live in an age of active development of technology when, almost every day, we are presented with various new products in one field or another. Night vision is no exception. Interesting developments regularly appear and are implemented in this area, which change our understanding of NVDs and makes them maximally integrated into the everyday life of a modern person. Recently, a popular trend has been the creation of night vision devices that can be combined with smartphones, tablets, and laptops. This opened up new opportunities that every modern person should learn to use.

New developments in night vision technology

Night vision is a promising area, so it receives much attention. Various high-status companies finance expensive projects, becoming involved in developing this technology. They move science forward and make accessible what was previously considered science fiction. Hundreds of developers work in this direction, experimenting and implementing their ideas. Thanks to this, new, unique developments are emerging that can make night vision more accessible and valuable in all areas of activity.

Thin film technologies

Today's NVDs are high-quality, reliable, practical, and easy-to-use devices. However, they still need to be better. The developers of such optics also understand this, so they are trying to improve existing appliances and create more advanced models based on them. One of the main areas of development is reducing the size of NVDs. This will make them more convenient to use and make it possible to combine night optics with various modern gadgets.

To obtain the required results, the developers used a unique thin-film technology. It is promising because it can make all NVDs more compact and lighter in the future. Now, night optics are pretty bulky due to dimensional elements in the design. This applies to any television equipment and devices using classic night vision. All components of such optics capture and process infrared radiation or heat emanating from various objects. The result of complex manipulations is creating a clear and detailed image displayed on the NVDs screen. A similar principle is applied in devices made based on thin-film technologies. In this case, the desired result is achieved through organic light-emitting diodes, which many know by the abbreviation OLED. They are in demand among various equipment manufacturers, from smartphones to TVs, laptops, and computers.

The emergence of thin-film technology was made possible thanks to developers from the University of Florida. They created a unique element that consists of 7 layers of thin film. Some capture infrared radiation, after which the received information is processed, and the signal is amplified. The remaining thin film layers provide the output of the formed image, visible to the human eye. Australian researchers proposed an alternative thin-film coating. They tested the coating in which they used nanocrystals for a long time. They are microscopic particles that have unique optical properties. Due to their characteristics, nanocrystals convert low-energy photons of IR light into high-energy photons of the visible spectrum. For the functioning of such a coating, additional film illumination is required, which is carried out using the light of a microscopic laser. At the same time, it does not need any power sources.

Both thin film coating options are unique and valuable. With their help, you can turn almost any device into high-quality NVDs. So, by applying a thin film to a smartphone camera, you can achieve the effect of night vision. Similarly, it will be possible to transform a laptop camera (for example, for video communication in a dark room) and turn simple glasses into NV goggles. There are many similar examples, so the promise of such a development must be considered.

Key benefits of using thin film technology:

  1. Reducing the size of NVDs. One of the main disadvantages of most night vision devices is their large size. To correct the situation, developers propose to use thin-film technologies. They will make it possible to replace significant structural elements with several thin film layers, the thickness of which is only a few nanometers. This will significantly reduce the size of the entire device and make it more convenient to use.
  2. Reducing the weight of night vision devices. The size and weight of night optics are interrelated indicators. Therefore, if the dimensions are facilitated through thin-film technologies, then the weight of the devices will automatically become much less. This will make the process of using such NVDs more comfortable.
  3. Lower voltage. For standard NVDs, the required voltage can be several thousand volts. However, in the case of using thin-film technologies, this value is no more than 5 Volts. Such a big difference is achieved due to the multilayer structure. The process of generating electricity occurs when light passes through each layer. At the same time, the voltage is increased until it reaches the levels required for the device to operate. The ability to use lower voltage makes it possible to install less powerful batteries. This also entails a reduction in the batteries' size and positively affects the dimensions of night optics.
  4. Reduced cost of NVDs. Thanks to the small size and ease of manufacturing image processing devices using thin-film technologies, it is possible to minimize the cost of night optics. This will make it more popular among users who need help to afford to buy expensive NVDs.
  5. Expanding the scope of NVDs. Thin film technologies can further expand the range of applications for night optics. Thanks to the ability to reduce size and weight, such NVDs can be implemented in smartphones, iPhones, tablets, laptops, and other devices people use daily. Thin layers of film will also be helpful in cars. By equipping your windshield with them, you will be able to improve visibility while traveling on poorly lit streets. With dozens of applications, new developments will be no less critical in the military sphere.

Developments based on artificial intelligence

When information is provided about modern developments in any field of science, you should expect a separate section devoted to new products created with the help of artificial intelligence. Night vision technology is no exception. AI is used quite actively in this direction, and dozens of exciting developments are being carried out on its basis. Humans have yet to explore the capabilities of artificial intelligence fully. Therefore, it is compelling to developers who want to surprise humanity with something exciting and unusual.

Today, many ambitious projects are being implemented in the field of night vision. However, the most interesting is the attempt to create a multi-color image using artificial intelligence. As is known, modern NVDs form monochrome images on the optical screen. This only sometimes allows the user to extract the necessary information, so the developers do their best to correct this situation. The closest to success were researchers from the University of California. They conducted many experiments with night vision systems and were able to identify specific patterns. Adding AI capabilities to this made it possible to obtain a color image on the NVDs display.

To create a color image, researchers at the University of California first studied in detail hundreds of objects and substances that give them a particular hue. After analyzing all the information collected, they concluded that each pigment and dye simultaneously reflects waves of the human visible and invisible spectrum (infrared). It is the latter that carries the information that scientists use to form a color image. The researchers used the power of artificial intelligence to extract and process it correctly. Their experiments used a unique camera that is simultaneously sensitive to visible and infrared light. It was connected to a state-of-the-art neural network to analyze and recognize images. The photographs offered for processing were printed using multi-colored inks exposed to multispectral lighting. This made it possible to cover infrared and human-visible wavelengths. Samples using ink illuminated with IR light were successfully analyzed by AI. Based on the information received, artificial intelligence could reasonably accurately predict each photo section's color.

Despite the excellent results, researchers are in no hurry to celebrate this event. They continue their work on the project and conduct many other experiments. Many of them are aimed at studying more pigments and dyes. This will allow you to obtain maximum information for a more accurate reconstruction of a monochrome image. If the developments are completed, this will become a new significant page in the history of the development of night vision technology.

Another critical development based on AI is the emergence of practical ways to reduce the dissipation of thermal radiation. The latter is the main problem of all thermal imaging devices, which negatively affects the quality and clarity of the generated image. To eliminate this shortcoming, researchers from Purdue University used the power of artificial intelligence. Their central development was Heat-assisted detection and ranging (HADAR) technology. In it, scientists used a vast array of data, where emissivity indicators were collected for every material existing in nature (of those that were available for study). This information became the basis for training a neural network researchers use to identify the substances from which environmental objects are made.

With AI's help, scientists could quickly process thermal signals received from various thermal imaging equipment. This made it possible to determine the temperature and emissivity and predict the texture of each material falling into the field of vision of night optics. Thanks to the data obtained, the researchers made certain adjustments and achieved a significant reduction in the dissipation of thermal radiation. All this positively affected the quality of the resulting image in any lighting conditions.

Research in this direction continues. However, it is evident that after their completion, HADAR technology will become indispensable in many areas of activity. First of all, it will significantly improve automated navigation, maximizing the safety of modern vehicles (for example, self-driving cars). This technology will also be helpful in medicine, robotics, and various industries. With its help, it will be possible to improve the quality of scientific research, creating favorable conditions for making new vital discoveries. In addition, HADAR will help maximize the efficiency of the work of rescuers, police officers, and intelligence officers.

Night vision on smartphones and laptops

Smartphones and laptops are relatively new inventions, but imagining our daily lives without them is challenging. These gadgets are constantly improving, becoming more versatile, reliable, and easy to use. Recently, developers of such equipment have come up with the idea of equipping devices with night vision functions. Several exciting developments have been presented in this direction, each of which can be useful to people. However, they still need improvement and cannot compete equally with full-fledged night vision devices.

The simplest solution to turn a smartphone or laptop camera into a kind of NVD is to use a particular ToF sensor in the design. It is a microscopic structural element that consists of an IR light-emitting diode and a unique light-sensitive matrix. The operating principle of such a sensor is quite simple. The diode emits infrared light, which is reflected from all surrounding objects and returns to the photosensitive matrix. Next, the time required to complete the entire operation is calculated to the nearest nanosecond. The results make it possible to determine the distance to particular objects and estimate their shape and size.

A ToF sensor installed on a device (for example, a smartphone) works unnoticed by its user. You need to use various supporting applications to access the data it collects. They can display everything the ToF sensor “sees” in real-time. The result will be the appearance of an image on the gadget's display, on which the outlines of various objects surrounding the user will be visible. In most cases, the picture quality will not be as high as that of full-fledged NVDs. However, in some situations, having this option on a smartphone will be helpful to the user (for example, when moving around a dark room). An additional advantage of a ToF sensor on the gadget is the ability to use it even in complete darkness. In this case, it will work no less efficiently than with minimal lighting.

There are many other applications for the ToF sensor. For example, it can be an excellent addition to a system to protect a smartphone or other device from hacking. Thanks to its capabilities, it will be possible to unlock the gadget (using the user’s face scanner) even if this operation is carried out in complete darkness. It will be no less applicable when taking night photographs, video conversations in places with insufficient lighting, and much more.

To turn various gadgets into devices capable of creating high-quality images in the dark, developers supplement the standard set of cameras with a special infrared camera. It works separately and is customized by the user according to individual needs. Most often, such a camera is equipped with an infrared flash. Its presence makes it possible to improve the quality of photographs and videos without flare and other defects when using an ordinary LED flash. Most often, such cameras are found on flagship smartphones from well-known manufacturers. Their presence automatically increases the cost of devices and makes them quite expensive. However, infrared cameras work effectively and can completely replace various NVDs in some situations. At the same time, the quality of the created image will still be much lower than that of full-fledged night optics.

The night vision function is available not only to owners of smartphones and tablets but also to people who regularly use a laptop. This device can be supplemented with a unique webcam that can operate in NVD mode. Using such a device, it will be possible to improve the quality of the image displayed on the screen during video communication (for example, when conducting a video conference in places with poor lighting). Webcams with night vision functions are still exotic devices manufacturers still need to produce. However, the benefits of such devices are gradually increasing their popularity among owners of laptops and desktop computers.

Combination of NVDs with smartphones and laptops

Modern night vision devices are universal devices that easily synchronize with various valuable gadgets. The combinations created broader possibilities for users, allowing them maximum benefit. There are many ways to use NVDs with a variety of devices. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and is also in demand when performing specific actions. Our guide will focus on the most popular combinations that occur more often than others.

Famous use cases for NVDs with various modern devices:

  1. Control NVDs using a smartphone. The developers of modern NVDs strive to make controlling their equipment as simple and understandable as possible for everyone. In this regard, they enable users to connect night optics to a smartphone or other gadget. This is done using special applications, which, after installation and launch, synchronize NVDs with the phone. Thanks to this, users can control night optics via a smartphone, turn it on and off, change various settings, and perform many other actions. Wi-Fi is most often used to synchronize devices. In some cases, NVDs communicate with the gadget via Bluetooth.
  2. View photos and videos obtained using NVDs on a laptop. Almost all modern NVDs are equipped with photography and video recording functions. The obtained data often contains a lot of helpful information, which the user uses to analyze the actions taken, create educational materials, and conduct online broadcasts of events (for example, hunting various animals). You can use the Night View display to view the photos you have taken and the videos you have captured. However, this option is only acceptable in field conditions. If you have the opportunity to use a laptop screen, then you should take advantage of it. Connecting night optics to view created materials on another device would be best. This can be done using a wired or wireless connection. Both options are popular, so choosing one of them depends on the capabilities of the instruments used.
  3. Exchange NVD data with various devices. Different types of NVDs are used not only by civilians but also by the military. In this case, night optics can always exchange data with other devices. Having this capability improves communication between unit soldiers and their commanders. Data exchange is carried out after connecting all operated NVDs and other instruments (for example, laptops used at headquarters) to a single system. Combining night optics and other gadgets allows the command to monitor the situation and coordinate the actions of each unit member. In some cases, this combination of devices is used by police and intelligence agencies.
  4. Improving the quality of the image generated by NVDs by processing it on various devices. Only sometimes, even top-end NVDs can create a prominent and detailed appearance. To improve its quality, use a combination of night optics with different auxiliary devices. Among the latter can be almost any modern gadgets on which special applications are installed for processing such information. Most often used on smartphones, tablets, and laptops, programs use artificial intelligence in processing. This makes it possible to increase the quality of the image generated by NVD significantly.

Night vision technology brings many benefits to humans. To further expand the range of its applications, the developers have made it possible to combine NVDs with various modern gadgets. This made the latter more advanced and valuable under any environmental conditions. In addition, this combination increased the versatility of the night optics itself. Now, it can be used even in those areas of activity where it was previously useless. Technology development is likely to continue for a while. In this regard, we should be patient and wait for the introduction of new and exciting products related to night vision technology. 


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