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Innovation

A thin-film might soon give cell phones night vision

University of Florida researchers have developed a thin-film technology that can be used to create affordable night vision devices in everything from cars to cameras to cell phones.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor on

Franky So has figured out a way to add night vision capabilities to our beloved gadgets.

The night vision devices that exist today just don't cut it — they use up too much electricity and are too heavy. So created a thin-film, known as Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs), that could potentially make night vision more mainstream.

So, a researcher at the University of Florida, designed his thin-film technology based on what is already used in flat screen TVs. By tapping into this thin-film technology, So has demonstrated how to turn infrared light into visible light to create night vision.

It works when several layers of the film pick up on the IR light and lets the rest of the layers turn it into visible light. Electricity is generated as light passes through the layers and is then amplified by each layer.

That's when you'll likely see the green glow.

Discovery News reports:

It will take about 18 months to scale up the device for practical applications, such as car windshields, lightweight night vision eyeglasses and cell phones cameras.

"Ten years ago when people talked about putting cameras in cell phones, people asked why would you want to do that," said So. "Now you cannot find a cell phone without a camera. In the future, you might not be able to find a cell phone without night vision."

But cell phone cameras aren't the only devices that would benefit from night vision. The applications include putting the thin-film on:

  • car windshields to make driving at night as clear as day
  • cell phones so they can measure heat as well (they hope)
  • night vision eyeglasses

Of all the applications, I'm most excited that my iPhone might soon be able to take pictures at night.

Image: flickr/ diveofficer

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BMW night vision system uses thermal imaging

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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