The Pentagon’s research branch, DARPA, is great at turning wacky and cool ideas into real inventions and tools. Their next target is to take heat-vision technology and shrink it to such a small size that it would fit in the palm of a soldier’s hand. And not only that, but they hope to get it small enough to become part of a smartphone or a rifle scope to allow soldiers to clearly see in the dark without carrying any extra equipment.
Besides the fact that it would take a lot of work and research to just shrink this technology, DARPA is additionally asking that this tool be able to function in total darkness, as well as use intelligent algorithms to tell whether a person is a threat by scanning for weapons.
Regular civilans shouldn’t feel left out about the fact that soldiers get all the coolest toys:
“If successful, the IR [infrared] cellphone camera-like approach will lead to widespread proliferation in military and consumer products,” the solicitation reads. “Similar to visible cameras, the IR cellphone camera products will lead to a continued quest for improved cost-efficiency in various manufacturing methodologies, making it more attractive in the commercial sectors.”
So just like the GPS system and the Internet, which was once created for military use and then turned loose to the public, the portable heat vision technology might soon be available to the general public. But don’t get your hopes up about getting this technology for your next Christmas gift; engineers are expected to develop a working, cheap prototype in about three years. So it might take at least five years for working models to be included into your next smartphone.