The complex capabilities of today’s military, aerospace, and defense applications bring both extreme benefits and challenges when designing solutions for the Connected Soldier. Whether it’s improved night-vision visibility, secure data transmission, or next-generation assured position, navigation, and time (PNT) information, the stakes are high as reliability and accuracy are truly mission critical.
A wide range of devices are improving the efficiency, accuracy, and safety of military operations. During the design process, choosing the right display technology is key. Keep in mind, it must meet stringent military standards and offer several key features to make mission-critical data easier to read for the end user.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Display Technology for Military and Defense Applications
Night Vision Compatibility
Night vision capability continues to be an integral part of military operations, whereas ordinary displays can emit light wavelengths that diminish the effectiveness of these systems. Night vision compatibility – designed to reduce the vulnerability of soldiers being detected and interference with soldiers operating Night Vision Goggles (NVG), while also being easy to read with the naked eye – is a primary concern when designing devices for military use.
When choosing a display technology, it’s important to consider how it measures up to best-practice recommendations, such as the U.S. Army CECOM NVG Secure Lighting SOW, MIL-L-85762A, and/or MIL-STD-3009. These standards specify a cutoff wavelength and a limit for total emitted power. Today’s leading display technologies like front-lit reflective LCD 2.0 have been thoroughly tested to ensure operation below all recommended thresholds to ensure compatibility with NVG Secure.
As our soldiers become more connected, their need for portable power grows. Integrating a display technology that sips power rather than drains it may determine the success of your defense device. Soldiers can be in the field, cut off from secure power sources, for unpredicted amounts of time. The longer the potential battery life, the more flexibility given to a mission and more effective the soldier. Lower power electronic components prevent operators from being stranded with a dying device, needing to carry the extra bulk and weight of charging systems, or having to cut a mission short to return and recharge.
Many military missions take place outdoors, where sunlight conditions cannot be controlled. A device that performs poorly in bright ambient lighting will impact the readability of mission-critical data. Displays must perform well in direct sunlight to ensure soldier effectiveness. Savvy product designers will consider ambient contrast ratio specs and flexible technologies that perform well in all lighting conditions, like LCD 2.0, to improve display readability outdoors while preserving battery life.
Today’s soldier is often working in rugged and hostile environments. Defense devices must be prepared to operate accurately in extreme conditions. To combat the elements, displays should be directly bonded via optically clear adhesive (OCA) to a ruggedized cover lens. TA directly bonded displays will help keep out dust, mud, sand, snow, and water that can all wreak havoc on devices if they are allowed to penetrate the device casing. New cover lens technologies and bonding techniques increase the ruggedness of LCD displays without sacrificing display features and readability. Additionally, UV treatments can protect the display from premature degradation from extended sunlight exposure.
Size and Weight
More connectivity means more devices, more batteries, more heat, and more weight for soldiers. For devices that are deployed in the field, every ounce matters – especially when part of an overall fighting load. Thinner displays enable smaller devices which reduces the burden on a soldier.
IoT connectivity changes what users expect from displays with regard to device longevity and upgrade abilities. Similar to IoT, the Internet of Military (IoMT) and the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) offer new benefits to defense devices with optimized displays. Unlike segmented displays that are fixed and cannot evolve, technologies like LCD 2.0 support remote firmware updates, allowing display features to be securely altered after deployment. This potential is especially helpful for devices set up in remote locations, or those in use for prolonged periods of time.
Why Choose Front-Lit Reflective LCD 2.0?
Reflective LCD is an umbrella term used to describe the newest LCD technology that incorporates ambient or front-lit reflective LCDs as opposed to the traditional backlit-only options. LCD 2.0 involves a lightguide film that bonds to the front of the display, below the cover lens, using a single LED light bar to mix light evenly throughout a screen. The result is an ultra-low-power, high-resolution display with a quick refresh rate and consistent color specs.
LCD 2.0 display modules are compatible with standard LCD drivers, which makes it easy to drop into any design that would otherwise rely on a standard power-hungry backlit LCD. LCD 2.0 is especially suited for military applications, as well as outdoor and rugged environments, due to its sunlight readability, size, reduced battery utilization and NVIS compatibility.
There are very few applications with more serious repercussions than military, defense, and aerospace. The performance of a device in the field or air can mean mission success or failure, and even lives lost. Taking the utmost care to select the best display technology for a defense device plays a significant role in ensuring the best possible reliability, safety, and security for your end user.