A micro thin layer of aluminum oxide and a gated power supply were added to achieve Gen 3 technology. Gen 4 systems are currently the mostly highly refined Gen 3 tubes. There’s been only one type of a true Gen 4 tube manufactured. It didn't measure up to the failure standards of military specs and was rejected.
Which Do You Need?
Whether you need night vision or thermal imaging or even both is a matter of what mission you wish to accomplish, your training, and your agency's financial resources, including grants.
If your mission requires you to see fine detail at night, then you probably want to use light amplification night vision. The lens and sensor components in these systems have been highly refined and can offer you the ability to recognize faces or even read nametags from a distance.
In contrast, thermal systems are excellent for picking out and locating people who are hiding or lost in woods or other large search areas. They're also great for finding discarded evidence such as a gun that is still warm from handling or telling you which car in a parking lot was just driven. But like night vision it has its weaknesses. Since thermal relies on the differences in radiated infrared energy, facial recognition and super-fine detail suffer.
There are cases where night vision can be defeated where thermal cannot. One such instance involves a technique used by some sophisticated drug dealers. They pull their cars into a circle with the headlights facing the center and during darkness make their deals and exchanges in the center bathed with intense light. Officers using night vision for surveillance are "blinded" by this tactic. But it's ineffective if the officers have thermal imaging on their side. Since thermal relies on reflected IR radiation, it cuts right through the white light.
In far too many agencies, night vision equipment and thermal imaging are only available to special units. But if I were king, I would decree that all patrol cars and officers be equipped with light amplification night vision devices.
We need to see at night and a flashlight isn't always the answer. The bad guys can see us coming and see where we’re looking. For the price, there's no beating it when it comes to surveillance, and it puts us "one up" on most crooks.
In my kingdom, Thermal would go to tactical teams, search teams, and supervisor cars. You can’t beat it when searching wooded areas for a suspect, lost child, or tossed evidence.
WHERE TO GET IT
American Technologies Network
American Technologies Network (ATN) is a leading manufacturer of precision optics, including night vision, daytime scopes, thermal imaging, and binoculars. ATN recently moved to a new, larger, and more technologically advanced distribution and manufacturing facility in South San Francisco allowing faster delivery, better quality assurance, and a larger staff. The company also expanded its research and development department. ATN’s 6015WP is a National Tactical Officer’s Association (NTOA)-approved night vision device that renders the display in black, white, and grey. These hues are much easier on the eye than standard night vision green.
Centurion Systems makes Yukon and Sellmark night vision and optics products. Its Multitask handheld monocular is a great solution for patrol officers at a price point that won’t make your admin folks blow their lattes through their noses when they get the invoice. The Multitask unit can also be mounted on head gear. It features automatic brightness control with user-friendly controls, an integrated (25mW) IR illuminator, and a weather-resistant housing.