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Conventional nightvision relies on an image intensifier to convert weak light from the visible and near-infrared spectrum into visible light which can then be seen by the human eye. But nightvision can only work with what it’s got, so when nightvision confronts a scene which is completely dark, it has no light to enhance, and thus becomes useless.
But a new combination of technologies allows a handheld device to perceive great detail in total darkness without emitting a visible beam of any kind. The nine-pound Tiger Vision unit built by MobileLED uses an array of powerful infrared LEDs to shine an invisible beam before it, and has a special digital camera which converts the infrared light into the visible spectrum. It then displays the scene on a built-in four-inch LCD monitor, or on a remote eyepiece which can receive the camera’s signal from up to a hundred yards away. It’s basically a flashlight whose beam is visible only to the light’s operator.
I describe a technology very similar to this in my as-yet-unfinished novel… but the guys at MobileLED actually built the thing, so they are fair bit cleverer than I.