Why is night vision green 1
Effects of phosphor color in modern night vision devices on visual performance and performance of the user
The ability to see in the dark and to carry out military missions is indispensable in modern armed forces. General Barry McCaffrey, commander of the 24th US Infantery Division in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, stated: "Our night vision capability provided the single greatest mismatch of the war." In the Bundeswehr, too, monocular and binocular night vision devices are used both in flight operations and by ground troops.
Night vision devices (NVG, Night Vision Goggles) generate a green or black and white image (gray or green levels) on a phosphorescent screen located close to the user's eye. Image intensifier tubes with white or green phosphor color are used here. The Bundeswehr currently uses devices with both phosphor colors in parallel. The aim of the study presented here was to investigate whether the choice of phosphor color leads to differences in user performance.
This question arose from the finding that the staff of the Special Forces Command (KSK) had developed individual preferences for one of these two colors - mostly white phosphorus - in the daily use of night vision technology by the special forces.
Since the possible performance with NVG is difficult to identify from the respective technical information on the devices - also because different environmental conditions have a significant influence on the resulting performance - a test setup was developed that at least approximates the performance with the real conditions of use who can compare devices.
In the subjective self-assessment there was a significant preference for the white phosphor color (p = 0.001). The shooting results were, however, highly significantly better (p = 0.00034 green or p = 0.00014 white) under night vision conditions, regardless of the phosphor color, than under daylight conditions, although the daylight results were rated highly significantly better in the subjective self-assessment (p = 0.0003).
Discussion and Conclusions
Subjectively, the white phosphor color is most likely to be perceived and preferred as daylight. With regard to the objective fulfillment of the task, however, there were no significant differences between the two colors. The subjects performed the specified shooting tasks better under night vision conditions despite objectively significantly reduced central visual acuity. Nonetheless, daylight was preferred in the self-assessment and one's own performance was subjectively rated better than night vision.
This revealed a noticeable general misjudgment of the performance, for which awareness can be created in the course of training in night vision technology in order to strengthen the users' trust in this technology: “The performance when using NVG is better than the subjective assessment , yes it is even better than in daylight conditions! "
In addition, it could be shown that the test collective has a shooting ability that makes individual fluctuations in the results largely negligible for the realistic practical test. With this homogeneous collective, further investigations on ergonomic issues, especially in connection with the respective effect on shooting performance and combat strength, can be carried out if necessary.
- Adomeit U: Basics and the latest developments in night vision technology. Lecture 4th KSK Symposium Armament / Maintenance; September 21, 2016.
- Jakobs FM, Werner A, Kreutzmann U, Frischmuth J: Flying with image intensifier glasses. Military Medical Monthly 2015; 59 (10): 293-300.
- Pinkus A, Lee Task H:
"Measuring Observers’ Visual Acuity Through Night Vision Goggles "Air Force Research Laboratory, Human Effectiveness Directorate 1998.
- Rabin J, McLean W: “A Comparison between Phosphors for Aviator's Night Vision Imaging System” U.S. Army Aeroedical Research Laboratory 1996; Report No. 96-39.
- Wiley RW: Visual Acuity and Stereopsis with Night Vision Goggles. U.S. Army Aeroedical Research Laboratory 1989; Report No 89 - 9.
Images: S. Rommel, Koblenz
Chief Medical Officer Sven Rommel
Email: [email protected]
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