The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) said today's night vision goggles are too heavy and cumbersome for troops and have led to short term and long term neck injuries.
DARPA officials have put out a call to companies to issue proposals to build the next generation of night vision goggles. Proposals must put forth a plan to design goggles that look a lot like a bulky pair commercial sunglasses. The night vision glasses must be able to instantly switch from daylight to infrared.
Military leaders worry that soldiers and Marines don't have the same advantage they once did in the night as more armies and fighters get access to commercial night vision goggles. DARPA made a point to highlight the development of devices like Goggle glasses that allow for instantaneous mobile computing.
"The proliferation and commoditization of night vision technology has eroded the tactical advantage of night operations enjoyed by the U.S. military. By moving next generation night vision into more infrared bands, and across bands, next generation night vision technologies can help provide U.S. military forces a renewed advantage," DARPA wrote.
U.S. Special Operations Command will serve as the acquisition agency for the program. Below is a wish list that DARPA put forth for what it expects from the next generation NVGs:
- Form Factor and Appearance that blends with commercial sunglasses/eyewear, coverage of both eyes preferable
- Volume less than or equal to twice that of commercial sunglasses/eyewear
- Weight less than current visual augmentation systems
- Power greater than 24 hours run time on one charge, with power source included in weight metric
- Cost of less than $5000 in volume of 1000 or more
- Visual Acuity of Snellen 20/20 at clear starlight to direct day sun over 90-degree vertical and 120-degree horizontal feld of view (FOV)
- Low latency (photon in to receipt by eye) of less than or equal to 2ms
- Supports interface with tactical computing elements and communications systems, to include the transmission of sound and video to other team members
- 6 Axis Inertial Measurement Unit, Compass, GPS
- Interoperable external data and power interfaces
- Withstand Military Specifications for environmental, EMI, and ballistics