Psychophysics of Night Vision Device Halos

  • Robert S. Allison
  • Tracey Brandwood
  • Margarita Vinnikov
  • James E. Zacher
  • Sion Jennings
  • Todd Macuda
  • Paul Thomas
  • Stephen A. Palmisano
Conference paper


In modern Night Vision Devices (NVDs) ‘halo’ around bright light sources remains a salient imaging artifact. Although a common feature of image intensified imagery, little is known of the perceptual and operational effects of this device limitation. This paper describes two related sets of experiments. In the first set of experiments, we provide quantitative measurements of Night Vision Device (NVD) halos formed by light sources as a function of intensity and distance. This characterization allows for analysis of the possible effects of halo on human perception through NVDs. In the second set of experiments, the effects of halation on the perception of depth and environmental layout are investigated psychophysically. The custom simulation environment used and results from psychophysical experiments designed to analyze halo-induced errors in slope estimation are presented. Accurate simulation of image intensifier physics and NVD scene modeling is challenging and computationally demanding, yet needs to be performed in real-time at high frame rates and at high-resolution in advanced military simulators. Given the constraints of the real-time simulation, it is important to understand how NVD artifacts impact task performance in order to make rational engineering decisions about the required level of fidelity of the NVD simulation. A salient artifact of NVD viewing is halo, the phenomenon where the image of a bright light source appears surrounded by disc-like halo. High-fidelity physical modeling of these halo phenomena would be computationally expensive. To evaluate the level of approximation that would be sufficient for training purposes human factors data is required.

NVD halos generated by light sources in a scene have a size that is approximately invariant with intensity and distance. Objective and subjective measures of halo geometry indicate that halo size, when halo is present, is relatively invariant of target distance or intensity. This property results in perceptual distortions and strong illusions with isolated stimuli. In complex scenes, systematic distortions of slant are predicted due to an imposed texture gradient created by the halo. We investigated this hypothesis in psychophysical experiments. The results suggest that perception of slant and glideslope in complex scenes is remarkably tolerant of texture gradients imposed by NVG halo. These results are discussed in terms of NVG simulation and of the ability of human operators to compensate for perceptual distortions.


Optic Flow Automatic Gain Control Virtual Camera Texture Gradient Surface Slant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Effectuer des mesures quantitatives des halos autour des sources lumineuses perçus par les dispositifs de vision de nuit (DVN) selon l’intensité et la distance, décrire une méthode visant à simuler leurs effets en laboratoire et présenter les résultats des expériences psychophysiques ayant pour but d’analyser les erreurs induites par les halos dans l’estimation de la pente. Simuler avec précision la physique des intensificateurs d’images et modéliser les scènes observées à l’aide des DVN est difficile et exige beaucoup de calculs, or il faut réaliser ces activités en temps réel avec une fréquence d’images et une résolution élevées dans des simulateurs militaires de pointe. Étant donné les limites inhérentes à la simulation en temps réel, il est important de comprendre les incidences des artéfacts des DVN sur l’exécution des tâches afin de prendre des décisions rationnelles techniques sur le niveau de fidélité requis. La présence d’un halo ayant la forme d’un disque autour des sources lumineuses est un artéfact propre aux DVN.

Lorsque les repères indiquaient de façon évidente que la scène observée était inclinée, les participants ont perçu une pente proche de celle que l’on trouvait en l’absence de halo, tel que prévu. L’agencement régulier des lumières a permis d’obtenir différentes perspectives de profondeur, y compris la perspective linéaire, les gradients de texture, la compression (et l’effet de rapprochement) et la possibilité d’inférer un horizon implicite. Lorsque des halos sont présents dans une scène et qu’ils sont associés à une surface inclinée, leur grandeur varie, dans une certaine mesure, avec la distance apparente (constance de la grandeur). Il n’y a que peu de conflit dans ce cas particulier, étant donné que les repères de pente dominent et que l’invariance du halo est perçue comme un gradient de taille. Nous examinerons les résultats de la simulation NVG et la capacité de l’utilisateur à compenser les distorsions liées à la perception.



This work was performed for the NRC Flight Research Laboratory under PWGSC Contract #561982 in support of the Advanced Deployable Day/Night Simulation Technology Demonstration Project led by DRDC Toronto. Alex Tumanov and Jason Telner assisted in data collection for preliminary experiments related to this research. Portions of this work were reported in the proceedings of the SPIE Defense and Security conference held in Orlando, FL, April 9-13, 2007.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Allison
    • 1
  • Tracey Brandwood
    • 1
  • Margarita Vinnikov
    • 1
  • James E. Zacher
    • 1
  • Sion Jennings
    • 2
  • Todd Macuda
    • 2
  • Paul Thomas
    • 3
  • Stephen A. Palmisano
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Vision Research, York UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Aerospace Research, National Research Council of CanadaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Topaz TechnologiesTorontoCanada
  4. 4.School of Psychology, University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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