News | Dec 31, 2019

Using smartphone screen Army engineer develops large biocular, patent issued

Army R&D available for productization

A U.S. soldier conducts flight simulator training with a helmet-mounted display in 2018. The Army was issued a patent on Dec. 31, 2019, which can be used to improve such optical systems.

Georgios Moumoulidis/U.S. Army

The U.S. Army’s night vision laboratory was awarded U.S. Patent 10,520,720 on Tuesday for a device known as “Large Format Biocular Lens.”

The new invention leverages the performance of the now-standard 5.5″ smartphone screen (2,160 x 3,840 pixels) to create an imaging device that’s lightweight, using a plastic design for all but the outermost lens, relatively short, and easy on the eyes.

Biocular lenses are widely used in head-up and head-down displays for both modern military and commercial aircraft, flight simulators, microscopes for semiconductor device inspection, and medical applications.

Through a technology transfer agreement, private companies can leverage the Army’s R&D to create new and improved products for their customers.

“The total length of the invention is about 223 mm (8.8 inches), which is very compact considering the focal length is about 165 mm,” the patent states.

Using the larger mobile phone style display requires less total optical magnification to achieve the same field of view as other bioculars, and it allows a larger aperture space within which the operator’s eyes are comfortable, which dramatically improves the appeal of the invention.

It’s the twenty-first U.S. patent from inventor John M. Hall, a senior optical engineer at the Army’s C5ISR Center, according to patent records going back to 1995.

The research center’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate works to advance image intensification, infrared, lasers, and signal processing technologies.

TechLink, the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary for technology transfer, can help businesses, tech scouts, and entrepreneurs review Army inventions for commercial applications and product development.

TechLink’s staff provide no-cost consultations to businesses, explaining how private firms can acquire technical information and intellectual property protections so that the Department of Defense’s large R&D enterprise can support U.S. economic development and strengthen the U.S. industrial base.

For more information on licensing C5ISR inventions for commercialization contact Dr. Brian Metzger, senior technology manager, at