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Seeing Color in the Night 166

Roland Piquepaille writes "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."
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Seeing Color in the Night

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm tired of this idiot and the way he copies other articles so the silly slashdot editors can direct traffic at his half assed blog and help him make some money. He's even more annoying than the proprietary Micheal Simms.


    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In that case I propose a general rule - no links back to blogs of posters should be permitted. I have seen very many articles where people link to their blogs.

      Surely, this is about creating _generalised principles for proper behaviour, and moral imperatives for good governance of a discussion form_ as opposed to simply _doing what is possible to damage and ostracize an individual because you think he is an ass_? If the latter is the purpose then please enlighten the audience.
    • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:16PM (#18492271) Homepage
      No. Ronald Piquepaille has mended his ways. The story links straight to the relevant article and not to his blog. The last few stories from him have done the same. It's time to declare victory and move on to some other gripe.
      • his orange spectacles.
      • by siglercm ( 6059 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @06:42PM (#18494435) Journal
        Oblig: Please tag as 'ohnoitsroland' -- thank you.

        Ronald Piquepaille has mended his ways. The story links straight to the relevant article and not to his blog.
        Are you sure? I haven't been checking the Firehose lately. When I did last week, Roland was submitting articles with self-referring blog links.

        You see, it's the Slashdot editors we should be thanking, not Roland in the least. They have (at least twice recently) redacted his go-back-to-my-blog-and-run-up-my-hits self linkage. Thank you, editors!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    but we knew that from reading who the submitter is

    anyway here is the product page from Tenebraex []

  • Depth perception (Score:3, Interesting)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:26PM (#18490837) Homepage Journal
    Will adding color help with depth perception? It's one of the big issues with current night vision.
    • it is? why? is it showing the same image to both eyes?
      • Re:Depth perception (Score:5, Informative)

        by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 26, 2007 @03:25PM (#18491601) Journal
        The real problem is one of magnification. Most night googles provide some amount of magnification (ie zoom) providing depth perception and zoom requires heavy math on the part of the googles to separate the images just the right amount to provide a sense of depth that would be faulty if you simply zoomed. Its possible but computationally heavy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        If you notice, many night vision goggles have one lens for capturing the 'input' (actually the intensifier) which is split and fed to the two lenses for your eyes. So, yes, in many cases they are getting the same image for both eyes. i.e. it is not true binocular vision.

    • Re:Depth perception (Score:5, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:33PM (#18490927) Homepage Journal
      I doubt it. It will help some if the colors are vibrant enough for the human eye to read more "cues" than were available with green-vision, but otherwise it still comes back to the matter of binocular vision. You need two sensors set apart from one another at the approximate distance of your eyes in order to replicate that ability. Otherwise, it's like strapping a television screen to your face and a camera to your head, and walking down the street. You can do it, but it's disorienting.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 )
      This isn't a problem; there's binocular NVG headsets available, usually worn by pilots.

      Yes, not everyone gets the cool binocular headsets, but that's a matter of the Army being too cheap-ass to properly equip troops, not a technical problem. It's the same reason the Army doesn't bother giving troops body armor, armoring vehicles, or providing adequate medical care.

      • by gravesb ( 967413 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @03:31PM (#18491667) Homepage
        Actually, as an infantry officer, I prefer the monocular. If you get whited-out, you still have one good eye. It takes a bit to get used to, but once you are used to it, the monocular is an excellent system.
      • "Yes, not everyone gets the cool binocular headsets, but that's a matter of the Army being too cheap-ass to properly equip troops, not a technical problem. It's the same reason the Army doesn't bother giving troops body armor, armoring vehicles, or providing adequate medical care."

        Do you think the military budget is bottomless? The 80/20 rule applies to soldiers as much as it does to anything else; if very marginal increases in real utility double the cost of something it is frequently foolish to waste fin
        • You're right: when the nation is busy spending $1 trillion it doesn't have (i.e., going into debt) on a war that has no justification, it's hard to afford all the extra niceties like body armor, vehicle armor, and medical care (I'm not going to bother Googling for the references for you; they've been all over the news for several years now).

          If you're going to ask a soldier to risk his life for a purely political goal, the least you can do is provide him with the very best equipment and medical care money ca
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cp.tar ( 871488 )

            Now, sorry for being blunt (i.e. trolling), but military equipment is expensive.
            Suckers who volunteer to fight in wars are a dime a dozen.

            I mean, nobody pays people to reproduce, but they do it anyway, eh? The more you kill, the more will spawn.

            (Why, yes, I am a mizanthrope.)

            • I agree on the effect of testosterone poisoning among the young uneducated males, but you are wrong on several points:
              1- According to current difficulties encountered by american military recruiting officers, it's not always that easy to find enough "suckers" when too many people believe they would just be sent as cannon fodder on the losing side of an unnecessary war.
              2- Modern armies do not require dumb grunts that much, they need people that are able to handle modern equiments, work in team and sometimes
            • by Kelbear ( 870538 )
              I'm reminded of a thought that dawned on me when watching that Discovery Channel show "Future Weapons".

              These are some awesome pieces of equipment that we can bring to bear, but it's discouraging to think that we spend a million or more on a missile to blow up 2-3 insurgents. $250 dollar insurgents equipped with shirt, pants, and an AK. Or just a homemade bomb with some debris pulled over it.
      • Yes, not everyone gets the cool binocular headsets, but that's a matter of Democrats being too cheap-ass to properly equip troops

        Had to fix that for ya. Lets take a look at what the Democrats felt were vital for the troops in the Iraqi funding bill.

        -- $25 million for payments to spinach producers
        -- $120 million to the shrimp industry
        -- $74 million for peanut storage
        -- $5 million for shellfish, oyster and clam producers

        I'm sure spinach, shrimp, peanuts, and shellfish will help keep troops alive.
      • "that's a matter of the Army being too cheap-ass to properly equip troops, not a technical problem. It's the same reason the Army doesn't bother giving troops body armor, armoring vehicles, or providing adequate medical care"

        You can't actually believe what you're saying, can you?

        The US armed forces are the most highly equipped fighting forces in the history of the world. I mean, for chrissake, the crux of your argument is that the army is "cheap ass" because it only supplies monocular NIGHT VISION GOGGLES to its GIs. This is about as relevant as complaining that the Army is cheap because they only hand out Core-Solo notebooks to users instead of Core-Duo notebooks.

        Do we have a perfect military? Of course not. But that'

        • Simply put, what you're asking for will cost more money. How do you propose we pay for it?

          That's a simple question with a simple answer: don't go to war. Then you don't have to spend any of that money.
          • This isn't Candy Land, bro. We don't live in a world of peppermint and licorice and gumdrops.

            I don't think that the war in Iraq was entirely necessary. But there are times when you DO need to go to war.

            And when those times come, just like as it is now, things won't be perfect. Deal w/ it.
            • "entirely necessary"? It wasn't necessary at all! It was just as "necessary" as the Vietnam war.

              Just because the world isn't like "Candy Land" doesn't mean we need to run around invading countries to try to "liberate" them (or their oil).

              And when those times come, just like as it is now, you don't just "deal with it" and stick your head in the sand. You speak out against it, and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Considering how last year's election went, it looks like a majority of v
              • Ok, so how again does being against the war in Iraq have anything to do with chastising the Army for being "cheap asses?"

                You should hold people accountable. And citizens should play a part in the political process. In 2003 I quit my comfy job writing shinkwrap software, packed up the car, and volunteered for Howard Dean for America. That's what _I_ did to stop the war in Iraq. Considering you turned this into some "stick your head in the sand" pissing match, tell me, what have YOU DONE to stop the war?

        • "And your comment about medical care?"

          I agree on battlefield care, but the afterwards VA care seems to be lacking. Seems like a "now out of sight, out of mind" mentality. Of course, the VA is really more of a government beauracracy than real military, so even my viewpoint is sort of invalid.

          (Yes, relatives of mine have had VA problems)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I was a grunt for a few years a decade ago, I imagine like most things in the military the usless Airforce will get all the new stuff, the Amy will get a little of it, and the Marines will be opening gear package in the Vietnam era. All, joking aside... I don't see a need for color, I do see it for medics. But frankly for your average soldier patroling and or fighting at night, "where's my tarket" is all you need. Keep it simple lik binary... 0 or 1....Target or no target.
    • I'm a tetrachromat, you insensitive clod!
  • If I was a soldier on recon or something, I'm pretty sure I'd like the ability to tell whether that liquid on the ground was water or blood.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by zcubed ( 916242 )
      Paris Hilton should get one and then we wouldn't have to look at the green vids anymore.
    • Never mind. The original article never mentioned any physicians. Just one more idiosyncrasy coming from Roland.
    • Distinguishing and following blood trails would be easier. Tracking people is quite like tracking animals, and while it sounds gory, this matters.

      While it doesn't get much mention nowadays (being very un-PC), blood trails were followed by both sides when tracking each other in Viet Nam.
    • "Bring me my red shirt!"
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:32PM (#18490905)
    There are some non-gun-toting people who need to operate in a stealthy or semi-stealthy manner that would make use of this sort of thing. Think of the National Geographic-types that are setting up a pre-dawn shoot and trying to remain less visible, or the guys working on a forward helicopter refueling station who definitely prefer to be harder to see and definitely want to know the difference between stepping in a puddle of water and a puddle of hydraulic fluid.
    • Psshhh (Score:5, Funny)

      by CasperIV ( 1013029 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:43PM (#18491037)
      The non-gun-toting people are not as interesting. Besides, I do not condone the voyeurism of animals.
    • by AP2k ( 991160 )
      Hydraulic fluid tends to be clear like water.
      • What hydraulic fluid are you talking about? Pretty much every kind I've seen in the aviation field (from grandparent) is red/pink/purplish.
      • Hydraulic fluid tends to be clear like water.

        Actually, it's usually tinted for use in different systems so that you can tell which system is leaking. That's why your car's transmisstion fluid is tinted red - so that you can tell right away that you're in Deep Doo-Doo when you have a leak!

        Also, more viscous fluids (like various hydraulic goos) have very different-looking spectral reflections... I mean, they just seem to catch the light (especially colored light) differently than other fluids (dark oil,
    • Private security cameras are the biggest market. I would love to be able to surround my home with digital cameras that work day and night, recording everything that comes near the property.
  • That statement seems very strange.

    I thought these things were infra red based. That means that fresh blood should be body temperature/bright, while water should be area temperature/dark.

    Sure, it might be the same 'green', but is should be dramatically different, one very dark green, the other a shiny bright green.

    Am I misunderstanding something here? Or did they just use a bad example?

    • I thought these things were infra red based.

      Nope. Green-vision systems work on light-amplification principles. Infrared is a different technology that's more useful in tracking than it is as generic night-vision.
    • normally, i'm sure they're not infrared based. otherwise they wouldnt look like just green-tinted black and white videos, they'd look funky as hell, like this: []

      there are infrared cameras, but they're not the same as a night-vision [] camera.
    • by DG ( 989 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:49PM (#18491115) Homepage Journal
      There are three main technologies used for night vision in military equipment:

      1) Active IR: This is the old-style IR spotlight. This uses a just-below-visible IR spotlight and an IR-sensitive optical device (usually a driving periscope) Despite being IR-based, it is fairly narrowband and so isn't sensitive to heat - it is more like an "invisible spotlight". Not used much anymore.

      2) Image Intensifiers (aka "Starlight"): This is the technology behind "night vision goggles" or NVGs for short. They magnify the available light. They are also slightly sensitive to near-IR, so you can see IR-based LEDs, stobes, glowsticks etc - wearing one, you can see the IR LED flash in a TV remote control. The older Gen 1 goggles used an element for each eye, so you had grainy binocular vision. Newer systems from Gen II to Gen IV give an increasingly sharper and clearer picture, but tend to be monocular, so no depth perception - and I've seen some pretty funny things happen because of it. These don't see heat either.

      3) Thermal Imagers (aka TI): These are heat-sensitive, and can see through most smokes. These are much larger units, and are usually used as part of vehicle weapon system sights or dedicated surveillance equipment (NOD-IR) Most modern tanks have them, LAV-25s and Bradleys have them, and there are manpack versions to use in an OP - but you won't be bolting these to your helmet anytime soon.

      Up close, these can see through clothing. Don't ask how I know this. ;)

      • Just want to comment on your point 2) - I have a couple of video cameras without IR filters, and they can see the IR remotes light up, too. For those who are trying to see through people's clothing, this is your test in the store :) (Then all you need is an IR illuminator like the one from BG Micro.)
      • Thermal Imagers (aka TI): These are heat-sensitive, and can see through most smokes. [...] Up close, these can see through clothing. Don't ask how I know this. ;)

        Neat ! Oh and, BTW, how did you happen to know this ?

      • There's one other way to do it, and it is always full-spectrum:

        Really freakin' huge diameter binoculars(/telescopes) with unity magnification. Refractive or Reflective optics as per choice (though reflective would probably be lighter.)

        But it's really bulky, especially if it needs to work with starlight.

        I'm actually surprised no one has made matched-color wheel image intensifier before. It's a fairly obvious modification to existing technology, especially to anyone that's studied image intensifiers used in
      • Which leads to funny briefs like this:

        "Now remember, gents, you won't have any depth perception and there's a big ass ditch next to the road. When you see the IR chem light be careful or you're going to lose like a million fucking cool points."
    • Heat radiation is another wavelength than near-infrared. It's the same sort of infrared that's used in your remote, it doesn't feel warm either. Simply put it is just "redder than red", beyond the spectrum we can see. A nice experiment is to look at a glass of red wine with a night vision camera: it too will be clear as water. since red wine lets red light through, and your camera sees red light, it's transparent.
  • Tenebraex says that blood is the same color as water, hmmm?

    I'll pass, kthx.

  • isn't it easier just to build a "real" artificial sun?
  • I don't know if I misread the article but did they ever said how big these goggles are? Battlefield medics need good line of sight, and probably end up toting around enough stuff as it is. I'm not sure if this is going to sell well, especially if they're aiming it at the medics. Still its a cool bit of technology and I hope they're able to adopt it to something better like NERF Glow in the Dark Football/Basketball/Soccer!
    • You're right, medics don't need more weight, nor restrictively-large NVGs. But these things won't get any smaller unless someone buys the Gen-1 product, and a medic operating on a Blackhawk, working at a unit Casualty Collection Point, or even BN Aid Station (if light discipline is in effect) could gain a lot from having these available to him / her. By purchasing early revision models, the Army gets better casualty care near the front lines now, and hopefully even greater gains down the road.

    • My guess is too big. The current NVGs suck close up. You'd better be all pro and reloading by feel (not really much of a problem considering how much trigger time we spend practicing).

      I can't see a doc trying to use NVGs close up, even if they're color. The small zoom factor means it's way too difficult to, say, find something in your pack... or anything outside a half foot square at a time really. It's a rare situation when you're that close and it's not better to just lift the blasted things up.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:40PM (#18490997) Homepage Journal
    How about some of these color nightvision goggles fitted with the bat ears [] that allow human echolocation?

    Those kinds of sense boosters could make night, with less distractions away from the target, the most effective time to purse targets.
  • For the record... (Score:5, Informative)

    by coolmoose25 ( 1057210 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:41PM (#18491011)
    I have color blindness, but I can still see colors. Most color blind people can see colors, they simply have trouble distinguishing one color from the other, particularly when they are close... For instance, I have no trouble telling the difference between a red light and a green light, and I have no trouble distinguishing the colors on a weather map. But ask me to identify a particular color as pink or purple, and I can see the color as either or both at the same time. That's why I can't see the damn number on the test page! Most color blind people do not see in Monochrome, as it would seem that most of the non-color-blind world tends to believe. For more info, check out the wikipedia entry... []
    • I was 20 before I found out I was color blind. If I had not taken one of those "pick the number out of the dots" tests during a general medical screening for a new job, I would have never known.

      I can use it as an excuse though if my wife thinks I dressed my daughter funny.
    • What you (and I) have is termed, at least by my optician, as colour deficiency. Colour blindness is indeed (apparently and technically) a complete absence of colour-sensing ability. For the record, I also find it interesting that I have better colour vision if the patch of colour is larger. I am useless, for example, at reading resistor colour codes.
    • More interesting examples of color deficiency. []
  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:46PM (#18491073)
    I wonder how this device works. There's no information about it at Tenebraex's website [], so it doesn't say. I know that in basic biology you learn that eyes are made up of rods and cones. Rods distinguish light and dark and cones distinguish color. Cones don't work very well in the dark. Rods do. So we can't "see" color as well in the dark. It's interesting that this is both a biological and a technological problem.
    • I wonder how this device works. You were probably looking for more than this, but...

      From the article:

      The technology, called ColorPath, combines a standard scope with a pair of rotating filters that vary the intensity of light coming from different colored objects. The brain interprets these variations as differences in color, enabling the viewer to recognize red and blue objects obscured by the green glow of today's night scopes.

      • If they are using rotating color filters (or variations on the idea) then this isn't really new technology. One of the competing color TV standards used this technology. NASA uses similar technology to get color from a monochromatic camera. Not to mention the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii who used the color filter method to produce color pictures for the czar.

        I thought that the green color was chosen because the eye was most sensitive to it.
        • If they are using rotating color filters (or variations on the idea) then this isn't really new technology.

          Why create a new technology when you can apply an old one in a new way? This would be the first time this technology has been applied to a nightscope.
    • There is a small amount of information about it in the beginning of the article. Rotating (synchronized) color filters. This and other methods have all been developed by a company called CANVS. [] they've been doing this type of stuff for many years.
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:49PM (#18491129)

    These goggles, which should become available this summer, will be sold for about $6,000 to the Army.

    And sold to consumers at Best Buy for $49.99 ($45.99 at Amazon).

    • You forgot to mention that at Best Buy, you'll be bullied by the spiky-haired-with-facial-piercings saleskid into getting a service plan for $199.99. And when you take it back because it's defective, they'll blame it on you and refuse to exchange it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by afidel ( 530433 )
      During Gulf War I this was exactly the situation with GPS locators. The milspec units were in short supply with a high cost and long lead time, so many soldiers had their family buy them civilian units for their use. The interesting thing is that while the milspec units had a very high theoretical edge in accuracy in practice the civilian units were generally as accurate because the milspec units were older technology that couldn't make full use of the extra information in the military signal whereas the ci
    • Gen 3 NVG's [] - $3695.00

      Gen 4 weapon sight [] - $4999.00

      So to answer your question - no. WHEN these appear on the civ market (and it won't be for a while), they'll likely be more expensive than what the military is paying.
  • I mean, come on folks, this technology has been around for decades: b/1/14/High_power_torch.jpg/250px-High_power_torch .jpg []
  • Military Pricing (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Itninja ( 937614 )

    ....will be sold for about $6,000 to the Army.
    So the actual retail value would be what? About $50 each?
  • switch, maybe? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I've come to understand that seeing in only one/two color(s) (ie black and white, nightvision, etc) helps see movement a LOT easiar, which is why many predators have black and white vision. If I were a soldier on the field at night, I'd prefer to keep my nightvision on as a default, but I'm sure it would be useful for them to see in colors for a brief moment to determine what it is they are looking at (such as water and blood). But to always see in color at night might actually inhibit a soldier's ability.
  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) * <> on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:43PM (#18492709)
    This reminds me of a question my Grandfather posed to me when I was young (30+ yrs ago). When the lights are out, can you not see colors (objects) because it is dark or because they don't have any color w/o light shining on them, a bit like "does a tree falling make noise if no one is there to hear it". I haven't thought of this in a while, I am sure there is a scientific answer, I would guess the prior, the characteristics that make an object a certain color are still there when the lights are out.
    • You cannot see color because your retina isn't sensitive enough,
      specifically the cones. For a related problem, see reading in moonlight.
    • To make a long story short, it's because we have specialized light receptors which we use at night time that are much more sensitive, but are monochromatic. They let us see better at night time than we otherwise would, but at the expense of colour vision.

      In other words, your grandfather's question was a False Dilemma []
      • it's because we have specialized light receptors which we use at night time that are much more sensitive, but are monochromatic.

        I believe my grandfathers question implied the "Total absence of Light". I believe NOTHING can see in that situation (short of some kind of internal/optical light source). The question is less about eyes, if about them at all. It is more, "does an object need light to have color"? Could it be that in the total absence of light everything IS black?
        • Oh. I see, it's one of those "if a tree falls in the forest" questions. By definition, colour is just a certain wavelength of light. In the absence of light, there is no colour.
  • It strikes be that one of the first applications will be for pilots, especially helicopter pilots. Modern instrument displays are often multicolored and the need to distinguish colors has prevented pilots from using night vision systems in the past. I think that the fancy systems in Apaches deal with this somehow, but it would be very useful in other (cheaper) aircraft.

  • Everything old is new again:

    "The CBS field sequential color system in its simplest form consisted of a rotating color wheel of red, blue, and green filter segments in front of a monochrome camera, feeding a black and white CRT receiver viewed through a second rotating color wheel. The two wheels were kept in phase synchronization, such that successive television fields were viewed using identical color primary filters to that at the camera....

    CBS had first broadcast its Field Sequential Color System as earl
    • This makes me wonder if there is a reason night vision gear is monochromatic. I would think that the engineers that has developed night vision in the first place knew of this technique. Or has it been a size/weight/power consumption issues that have kept night vision monochromatic? I say this because as a result of a casual conversation I had years ago with someone regarding color night vision, I thought that the color filter wheel system could be applied to night vision. Of course, thinking it and doin

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