by John Ramos

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — With much of modern warfare being conducted after dark, a company in Silicon Valley has embarked on an ambitious mission.

“Our goal is to displace all of the night-vision goggles, night-vision cameras that are currently out in the field, being used by the military,” said Drew Brugal, GM of Intevac Photonics of Santa Clara.

Intevac has brought the familiar green-glowing images of night vision into the electronic age. They have developed a sensor that can convert the faintest trace of light into digital video.

“We’re the next step, high definition, digital technology,” Brugal said.

And the picture is remarkable. Intevac brought KPIX 5 into a room equipped with one of the cameras. The lights are lowered to what seems like pitch black. But the sensor picks up an image, and that’s just the beginning.

“Because it’s digital you are now able to manipulate that. You can enhance it, you can zoom in, zoom out, you can do picture in picture.”

Which means, with these new goggles mounted on helmets, soldiers could actually transmit what they’re looking at to other soldiers. And tactical information can be superimposed over the visual display.

The cameras are now being mounted on Apache attack helicopters, meaning pilots no longer have to look away to monitor instrument data.

“And no matter where the pilot looks, he’ll have that information,” Brugal said.

The company’s general manager believes his new technology will replace current equipment, in the same way that digital photography replaced the use of film.

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