US Army’s Night Vision Technology Makes Life Look Like a Video Game

Photo Credit: Lancer Brigade
Photo Credit: Lancer Brigade

The U.S. Army’s Lancer Brigade (Second Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division) released footage of their new Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars (ENVG-B). The goggles show the outlines of people in the dark. The glowing outlines have reminded some people of the Halo video games.

The goggles, which were developed in conjunction with L3 Warrior Systems, allow the soldier to pick out enemies in the dark. They also provide updates on the screen so the soldier can keep their eyes on the target while still being able to check a map or a radio. A compass is always visible at the top of the screen, so the soldier is always able to keep their bearings with the goggles on.

The new system uses a high-resolution display and a wireless personal area network. There are more than 4,800 of the units already being used by the army.

The president of Integrated Vision Solutions, Lynn Bollengier, said that the goggles are the most advanced ever developed for and used by the U.S. Army.

The Lance Brigade tweeted that “You have never seen night vision like this.” A Twitter user replied, “I have, actually,” and included a screenshot of the Visual Intelligence System, Reconnaissance (VISR) system in action in the Halo game.

Halo is a video game series in which soldiers do battle with aliens using futuristic technology.

The new ENVG-B system gives a sharper image at night than older night vision technology. It allows the soldiers to fire without leaving them exposed to enemy fire. By using the wireless personal area network, the goggles can integrate with the sight on their weapon which allows them to point the gun around a corner and see through the sight while the soldier remains protected behind the wall. Picture-in-picture technology makes sure the soldier can still see what is in front of them while they are aiming their weapon.

The new goggles use third-generation white phosphor tubes, which means the green glow of old systems is gone. The contrast in the new technology is so sharp that some have compared it to the cel-shading used in video games.

The goggles are not only useful at night. The Army has said that they also improve vision in “dust, smoke, zero illumination, (and) subterranean” conditions.

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According to Captain Will Hess, the commander of C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, the ENVG-B goggles allowed soldiers to hit targets 300 meters away and farther, while soldiers with the old technology had trouble seeing beyond 150 meters.

Now that the real-world Army has caught up with futuristic video games, what is next?

The Army is also working on Integrated Augmented Reality System (IVAS) that uses digital thermal, night vision, and low-light sensors to give soldiers a 180-degree field of view, mapping capabilities, and the ability to track both enemy and friendly troops in battle conditions.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE