I guess almost everyone knows about the really small area of electromagnetic spectrum that humans are able to see.

Well, it is just not fair :-).

Why there is still no multi spectral (means with variable spectrum) visors available on the market ? The idea is to get an predefined by device settings spectrum area (can be changed at any time by user) and map it to common RGB palette in order to visualize all the spectrum.

Are there any unsolved technological problems or restrictions with that ? What areas of spectrum are still difficult/unavailable to observe ?

As far as I understand this kind of device is quite simple and is just a simple modification of common cell phone camera (so it is cheap for mass production).

No doubt, this kind of device will reveal a lot of great hidden info on EM interactions from the world that will be easy to observe in dynamics and will be quite useful for lots of people in all areas from science to applications. I guess it will be a revolution in technics/biology related areas or natural sciences (and also a good device to common use).


1 Answer 1


First of all, you probably know about night vision googles, which slightly increases the spectrum available to human eyes. But why not expand this type of technology to a wider band, of frequencies? I would say there are two reasons

  1. Most technologies designed to detect electromagnetic radiation are only efficient within some relatively narrow band of the spectrum. Even the human eye uses three different detectors (cones) to detect different colours. Your cell phone is another good example: The technology used to detect and emit radiowaves (the antenna) is very different from the technology used to detect and emit visible light (camera chip / pixels). A visor or camera such as you suggest would have to be able to shift between a wealth of different detectors (some of which might be quite unwieldy) as you scroll through the spectrum.
  2. It may very well not lead to anything revolutionary. One field which has immense interest in detecting a wide range of EM radiation is astronomy, and they basically already can using a combination of satellites and telescopes. Using these technologies is more practical than glasses, and jamming them all into one device would be unnecessarily complicated. For most of the interesting EM emission on earth, a pair of night vision goggles and a radio would probably suffice.

It would be very cool to have, but I am afraid that the price for a practical device of this kind would be much too expensive to build just because it's cool.

  • $\begingroup$ Current technology is more focused on custom applications rather then general devices. The idea with radio is great, but it is just a way of indirect measure of value. Using camera or googles will allow to see the EM fields/interactions in nature by common way with our senses. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2019 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ Modern equipment use semiconductors technology to convert EM custom wave to electric current signal with lets say RGB 3 types of wave length. Equivalent variable spectrum device can do just the same with 3 wave lengths from custom spectrum range and then map it to standard RGB with simple transformation. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2019 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ So in general we will need semiconductor sensors that are able to receive a variable wave length. What about some kind of optical transistors that are able to change their properties using some kind of regulating base current ? $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2019 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ Well, i guess the price is not an issue - in mass production the cost of end product tends to be quite close to the cost of materials and energy required for production (+ of course some delta % for profit). $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2019 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, if you could modify the spectrum of a semiconductor the same way you can modify which frequency an transistor radio receives, this would probably achieve what you suggest. However, what spectrum you can receive with a semiconductor is really given by the material it is made of as far as I understand, and is thus not easily modulated. Either you would need to be able to modify the band gap in the semiconductor quite heavily, or be able to "slide" through many different materials as you scan through the spectrum. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2019 at 12:03

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