THE CASE FOR NIGHT VISION GOGGLES: A LOOK INTO THE PAST AND A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE

Author: 

Douglas A. Kash, Esq. & Charlotte L. Leavell, Esq.

Night vision goggles (NVGs) are optical instruments that provide image enhancement in low-light situations. Sold publicly, NVGs are utilized by a host of military and civilian actors for differing purposes. The warrantless use of NVGs is an issue that undergoes periodic, albeit repeated, challenges in various courts. Although most analogous to binoculars, defendants often argue that the use of an NVG is similar to a thermal imaging device. NVGs enhance dim light, allowing the user to see objects in the dark. The dim light (comprised of light particles known as “photons”) enters the NVG and hits a photocathode that converts photons into electrons (subatomic particles surrounded by an electric charge). A photomultiplier amplifies the number of electrons travelling to a phosphor screen. When the electrons collide with the screen, bits of light that significantly brighten the viewed object are generated. The green hue emitted is the result of phosphors on the screen, since the human eye can differentiate more shades of green than any other color. View More