How Does Night Vision Work?



It's not just the military and cool spies in Hollywood movies that use night vision technology. This type of technology is accessible to the general consumer and can be used for hunting, night surveillance, law enforcement, navigation, and entertainment. Night vision technology was invented by the military and its primary use is to locate enemies and targets in the dark, even at 500 yards or more! Now, this type of technology is used for many different applications!

There are three types of night vision categories:

  • Scopes/Monoculars are generally mounted on a tripod, another device, or handheld.
  • Goggles/Binoculars can also be handheld and this is especially true for binoculars, but goggles are generally worn on the head or a helmet. Night vision goggles also use image enhancement technology to collect light and make it easier to see in the dark.
  • Cameras with night vision technology are used for surveillance and they display images to a monitor.

There are two types of night vision technology. The first one is image enhancement, which collects all of the available light in the darkness and amplifies the images. by converting the light into electrical energy. This is the most commonly used method for night vision devices. Essentially, that small amount of light which is not easily detectable to humans is what allows us to see. The other type of night vision technology is thermal imaging. This type of technology is excellent for detecting heat (like people and animals). This allows you to see images based on the heat that is generated by the targets and objects. The infrared-detectors detect infrared light and create a detailed temperature pattern (known as a thermogram). This, in turn, creates electric impulses which eventually displays images.

If you're interested in purchasing a night vision device but are unsure of which equipment is the right option for you, check out this video below! You'll get a good overview of the pros/cons and advantages/disadvantages of each night vision device!


Night vision devices create a green glow. This is a result of the amplification of light as it turns into electronic information. While the images are colorless, the screen produces green images because that is the color that is the most detectable to our eyes! Humans can easily distinguish between the different shades of green compared to all of the different colors. Plus, the green images are easier to look at for extended period of time rather than just black and white images!

I know why you're thinking, understanding night vision technology is a little difficult. That's why I recommend you to have a look at this video by HowStuffWorks! They explain it very clearly through the use of animation and science!