Showstoppers@CES:Military style night vision for your car, boat, house…

by Marc

navigatorII_white FLIR systems make a range of night vision cameras that can be added to your boat (pictured), car or used in a security context.

FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) cameras let you see in total darkness. I can see this being handy in some situations, such as marine navigation – they don’t exactly put street lights on the ocean!

It’s also offered as an aftermarket addon for cars. FLIR systems can see further than conventional headlights so you get more warning of obstacles ahead. It could also offer you an advantage in foggy conditions too – visible and IR systems react differently to fog so you’d get a second view of the road.

You’re looking at around the $4000-$4500 mark fully installed into your car, unless you have a recent high end BMW in which case the factory option is "only" $2500. Pricey, but very neat!

Now, if only somebody would combine this with a head up display to superimpose the night vision picture on the windscreen. That would be pretty cool. BMW, are you listening…?

5 reviews or comments

Phrogg Says: January 8, 2008 at 9:38 am

Don’t know where you get the “Military style” from. I’ve never seen things like this in the military. (what they show you on tv and what is actually used are different things).

As far as super-imposing FLIR into a HUD, folks are working on it, if only in the hobbyist arena.

sam Says: January 9, 2008 at 3:24 pm

1. Get a small PC for your vehicle.
2. Get a small display for your carpc (they make 7″ DIN screens)
3. Remove IR filter from a webcam and attach it to your vehicle.
4. Add a high power IR illuminator to the vehicle.

That should cost you about $4 or 500 depending on if you have the equipment (any real geek should)

Marc Says: January 9, 2008 at 7:58 pm

@Phrogg: The Apache helecopter, for one, has had FLIR for years. They overlay the view into the pilot’s helmet. This article talks about a systems upgrade this year. Nice link to the project though, I’ll keep an eye on that to see what they come up with.

@Sam: Sure, you could if you knew what you were doing. I don’t think they’re aiming this at geeks though!

I’d like to see the results of a homebrew system, it would be a cool project. I’d be surprised if you could get the same sort of range and performance as a commercial system – there’s a reason they want $2000 plus and it’s not all marketing – but I’d love to be proved wrong!

Phrogg Says: January 9, 2008 at 8:38 pm

@Marc: Yeh, i guess you’ve got a point. I wasn’t thinking avionics, i guess. The only land-borne vehicle i’ve seen any sort of FLIR on was a Bradley, and the camera was an archaic thing about the size of a photocopier and only the fellow in the turret got the pleasure of seeing anything. Still not sure what kind of household application this’d be put to, either, outside of an overly-expensive security system.

Paul Johnson Says: March 28, 2008 at 10:58 am

The FLIR is a third or fourth gen IR. The IR filter off your webcam wouldn’t even be as good as the first gen from the 70’s. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a deer and a human being standing in the road. The resolution is HORRIBLE.

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