Night Vision Technology: Continued Growth & Advancement in Goggles Devices

Posted by The RPO Team on Mar 5, 2017 10:11:00 AM

With rapid growth in thermal imaging and infrared technology, optics manufacturers continue to advance their products in an effort to keep up with high demanding markets, including night vision devices. Wearable night vision devices such as enhanced night visions goggles (ENVG), which use thermal imaging in their design, continuously improve in performance as technology evolves quickly. Helmet mounted goggles, cameras and other thermal devices have been at the forefront of the market, but night vision goggles are predicted to be the application to watch as the market progresses.

Night vision goggles, which are designed to be suitable for portable applications, are typically designed in two styles – Binocular and Monocular. The Binocular design for night vision goggles provide a wide field of vision (40-60 degree Field of View) in low light, beneficial for all military personnel including pilots and infantry with an increased depth of field. Monocular night vision goggles are used in tasks such as patrols, map reading, and tunnel or bunker work because they are easy to put on and easily worn with helmets due to their lightweight and high speed optics design.

In an exclusive partnership with market-leading night vision providers, RPO manufactures hybrid glass and plastic eyepieces for handheld or head mounted Night Vision goggles that:

  • Reduce weight by 50%
  • Replace existing components
  • Improve performance

RPO collaborates with manufacturers and distributors to design and fabricate lenses, assemblies and eyepieces.

The quick progression of night vision goggle technology is having big implications on the application-specific market as well as the night vision devices market as a whole:

  • Night vision goggles are forecasted to remain the leading market category for at least 3 more years
  • Expected to show highest revenue growth through 2020, exceeding $9 billion
  • Projected market value of night vision goggles is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 11.1%

Night Vision Goggles_market cost  by category.pngThe downfall in night vision goggle market comes in manufacturing cost, specifically in Image Intensification Tubes. Binocular goggles average 60% higher in cost than other night vision devices, such as cameras or scopes. Because their primary use is based on military and defense applications, goggles require specific certifications and must meet detailed specifications. The engineering, time and materials it takes to achieve these requirements are cost major drivers.  

Understanding the cost concerns and operational requirements, as well as the need for exceptional products in this market, RPO's engineering experts designed a digital night vision device – CMOS Night Observation Device (CNOD). CNOD is three systems in one to provide users with superior performance and design.

Considering that military and defense applications and requirements are the biggest contributor to the increasing demand for night vision technology, optical engineers are constantly looking for designs and materials that can perform at a high level, but also reduce weight. Tactical advantage also drives the continuous advancements in goggle technology, particularly enhanced night vision goggles. This technology fuses thermal imaging and image intensifiers inside one device, leading to rapid acquisition of targets by using the weapon and enhanced night vision goggle as one with blue tooth technology. One of the best advantages of ENVG is that it is a fused system of multiple technologies that gives the user greater situational awareness.

Choosing optimal materials for night vision systems is difficult because few glass types are available to fit design requirements. The rapid industry growth and the increased use of germanium in IR systems have also resulted in a demand for germanium, driving cost up and supply down. Recognizing this, Rochester Precision Optics developed broadband IR design techniques that simplify finding the best materials. Infrared molded glass aspheric optics combines the benefits of moldable infrared chalcogenide glasses and the sophistication of RPO's molding technology. IR glass offers excellent part-to-part uniformity, with lower manufacturing and material costs. From rapid prototype to high-volume production, RPO's IR optics solves design issues without sacrificing performance and improving cost.

Military and defense applications are the leading driver of night vision technology developments, but as applications in commercial markets continue to advance, the demand further increases. For Sportsmen specifically, night vision goggles will enable outdoor enthusiasts’ to track surroundings even in low light. From 2014 to 2020, the night vision goggle market volume in commercial and navigation applications is expected to grow 8.6%.

To learn more about our CNOD system and how its design will impact within the field of night vision technology, download the spec sheet:

RPO Optical Engineering Discovery Services

*Some statistics contributed from Industry Arc's Night Vision Devices Market Report

Topics: Night Vision Technology, Infrared, CNOD