When hunting for terrorists, seeing them before they see you is a must. Regular night-vision goggles are good, but not good enough. Sure, they let a soldier see at night as well as he would by day — but they don’t let him see any better. That just changed.
A new device developed over seven years by Optics1 gives warfighters “Predator”-style vision to better tag those terrorists and other threats. Only recently made available, the COTI (Clip On Thermal Imager) adds the ability to see thermal signals to existing night-vision devices. The human eye sees light with a wavelength between 400 and 700 nanometers, while a night-vision device may see up to around 900, closing in on the infrared range. The COTI amps up the warfighter’s vision to a whole different spectrum — giving the soldier souped-up, super vision.
COTI’s long-wave infrared technology allows a warfighter to “see” even in pitch-black or no light conditions. By using an 8- through 10-micron range, it can give the user “sight” in spite of smoke, foliage, fog, rain and other adverse conditions where standard devices provide only limited capability. While basic camouflage can defeat ordinary night-vision devices, it can’t fool the COTI’s ability to detect thermal sources. It can even identify whether a vehicle or a room has been recently occupied by “seeing” residual heat signatures. Arguably even cooler, it can spot hand- and footprints invisible to the naked eye.
The COTI’s ability to read temperature differences means it can also recognize recent ground disturbances indicating that an IED may have been planted and hidden. Lurking in dark openings like windows and doorways may conceal a person from detection by a night-vision gadget, but the COTI can still see you. Hiding in a shadow, behind an object or undergrowth? Invisible to most “image-intensified” eyes, but the COTI can find you. Trying to hide a gun or explosive under your clothing? The COTI could immediately reveal the unseen threat.