DARPA-funded DRS Technologies has developed a new 1280 x 720 night vision camera with pixels just five microns across — that's reportedly just one-twelfth the size of a human hair. So. Small. The new tech isn't just way more practical, it could save the government a bundle of money too.
The military uses sophisticated thermal infrared cameras to see at night, but according to the DoD's R&D department, they're too cumbersome, heavy, and expensive to issue to individual soldiers. The newly developed imaging technology is apparently dramatically smaller such that a person can realistically carry it. It's also cheaper: The imaging chips cost more or less depending on their size, so by the transitive property of government spending, smaller pixels equals savings. (There's no mention of how much it would cost to deploy these to a large number of soldiers.)
Even if the new camera doesn't end up a standard issue piece of gear for every grunt, it supposedly offers improved performance despite its diminutive size. Nice to see DARPA developing cool tech that's both innovative and easy on the purse. [DARPA]