Seeing colors in the night

A company named Tenebraex is developing goggles to help soldiers and physicians to see all colors at night, and not only the green color of current night vision systems. These goggles, which should become available this summer, will be sold for about $6,000 to the Army. But as states one of the founders of the company, with monochrome night vision, "blood is the same color as water." So these expensive night vision devices might be more targeted to Army physicians than to regular soldiers.

In "Things that show color in the night," the Boston Globe reports that a company named Tenebraex is helping color blind people to travel. But it's also developing goggles to help soldiers and physicians to see all colors at night, and not only the green color of current night vision systems. These goggles, which should become available this summer, will be sold for about $6,000 to the Army. But as states one of the founders of the company, with monochrome night vision, "blood is the same color as water." So these expensive night vision devices might be more targeted to Army physicians than to regular soldiers.

This technology has been developed by Tenebraex Corporation, based in Boston, Massachusetts, which works on military applications since 1992 in the visualization area. Here is a link to its ColorPath technology page.

The ColorPath night vision deviceOn the left is a picture of the ColorPath CCNVD (Color Capable Night Vision Device) (Credit: Tenebraex). Here is what the company says about this device. [It] "uses one standard, green image intensifier tube to create a true, full-color image for the user. The system is also mechanical and filter based—not computer in the loop. This means that compared to other color systems, it is real time, unaffected by temperature, light weight, power frugal and low cost. The CCNVD can generate a color image down to quarter-moon light levels, At lower light levels, with the Model OP, a simple twist of a knob moves the ColorPath technology from the optical path, leaving the user with a standard, monochromatic green night vision device with all the overcast moonless night performance that he had before.

The ColorPath goggles in actionAnd on the picture on the side, you can see "Benjamin Butler, a scientist at Tenebraex, demonstrating a preproduction color night vision system" (Credit and copyright: Boston Globe/Barry Chin). Here is a link to a original photo on the Boston Globe website.

Here are some more comments from the article about how Tenebraex can help soldiers at night.

Tenebraex has come up with a new way to help the troops -- if it can persuade the Pentagon to invest in some of the ColorPath scopes, priced at around $6,000. "We developed it with our own money, not government money," said Jones, and Tenebraex will have to swallow the loss if it can't make the sale. The first ColorPath scopes will be available this summer. Jones plans to make the rounds of military procurement trade shows in an effort to sell the technology. He's aiming at a vital niche market -- Army medics. They've told him that it's tough to insert intravenous tubes or treat some kinds of wounds if you can't see colors properly.

Will the sales pitch work? We'll see. The company sure hopes so, and that special operations units will also purchase these night vision system.

In its article, the Boston Globe also looks at another technology developed by Tenebraex to help the color blind people. According to the eyePilot software, "one out of twelve men is color blind" and cannot accurately read subway maps or machine tool controls. I didn't know that the percentage of persons affected with color blindness was that high. Anyway, the eyePilot software, even if it's cheap ($35), cannot be used in the streets -- at least today.

Sources: Hiawatha Bray, The Boston Globe, March 22, 2007; and various websites

You'll find related stories by following the links below.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All