The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US has announced a new programme that seeks to develop lightweight and compact night-vision goggle (NVG) technology.

The Enhanced Night Vision in eyeglass form (ENVision) programme is aimed to design lightweight NVGs that will offer a wide field of view (FOV) across multiple infrared (IR) spectrum bands.

The technology will enable replacing the existing night-vision technology that involves binocular-like optics mounted on a helmet with a single flat lens in a pair of regular eyeglasses.

The compact set will provide pilots and ground forces with night vision to operate in low light conditions, including fog, dust and other obscurants, as well as with thermal vision.

A Proposers Day for interested participants is set to be held via webinar on 21 January 2021.

DARPA Defense Sciences Office programme manager Rohith Chandrasekar said: “Our warfighters experience significant neck strain from current NVGs caused by the weight of the optics extending 4in-5in in front of their helmets.

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“If you’ve never worn NVGs for hours at a time imagine wearing a baseball cap all day with a two-pound weight attached to the front of the bill; that gives you a small sense of the stress experienced.”

Additionally, the ENVision programme will explore the possibility of night vision using direct photon up-conversion from infrared to visible photons using thin materials.

Chandrasekar added: “DARPA investments over the past decade have led to breakthroughs in the areas of planar optics, detection materials, and novel light-matter interactions.

“ENVision will leverage these advancements, amongst others, to develop enhanced night-vision devices in lightweight eyeglass form factors.”