Night-vision goggles are known for their green glow, but one company has developed a product to give users a realistic color view.
The system, known as ColorTAC, uses a filter to convert night-vision images into color, said Peter Jones, executive vice president and technology founder at Chromatra, a Beverly, Massachusetts-based company.
“It’s not false color. This is color,” he said. The device works by clipping onto an existing night-vision goggle, such as widely adopted PVS-14 and PVS-15 devices.
“What we’re actually doing is leveraging the color system that’s in your brain,” he said. “What the technology does is figure out a way to encode that data and then present it to your brain so your brain actually fills in the right colors.”
The system can have difficulty translating some colors, he noted.
“We are limited a bit by the spectral sensitivity of the PVS-14 itself,” he said. “They don’t have good blue rendition so there are a few colors, dark blues and black, that we’re hostage to.”
However, the device can tell blood from water or oil, he noted. Additionally, it is clear enough to determine if there is mud on a road or if there is water in a field.
The company has demonstrated ColorTAC to a number of military customers and sees Special Operations Command as an ideal way to break into the military market, said Tom Torosian, Chromatra’s sales and marketing manager.
“If you sell something to special forces, then big Army wants it,” he said. “The big animal for us is big Army because there’s a total of about a million PVS-14 in the market.”
The product will sell for $2,500, he said.
Chromatra has entered into a relationship with Wilcox Industries to facilitate a final design of the product and then manufacture the system, said Paul Stump, the company’s CEO.
“They will be tweaking the design for us. The design we have is probably not rugged enough to survive in a tactical environment,” he said. However, “they have a number of products they have developed over the years and this is sort of their forte.”
The first production run is slated for this summer, he added.Photo: Chromatra