Night vision technologies can be broadly divided into three main categories: image intensification, active illumination and thermal imaging.
Active illumination couples imaging intensification technology with an active source of illumination in the near infrared (NIR) or shortwave infrared (SWIR) band. Examples of such technologies include low light cameras.
Active infrared night-vision combines infrared illumination of spectral range 700–1,000 nm (just below the visible spectrum of the human eye) with CCD cameras sensitive to this light. The resulting scene, which is apparently dark to a human observer, appears as a monochrome image on a normal display device. Because active infrared night-vision systems can incorporate illuminators that produce high levels of infrared light, the resulting images are typically higher resolution than other night-vision technologies. Active infrared night vision is now commonly found in commercial, residential and government security applications, where it enables effective night time imaging under low-light conditions. However, since active infrared light can be detected by night-vision goggles, there can be a risk of giving away position in tactical military operations.