Not a figure of speech: That’s the actual spec
Radical Pentagon boffins have decided to build super high-tech binoculars or goggles which would – according to the government specifications – be able to identify and pick out “a needle moving along the surface of a haystack”.
The planned technology has been dubbed Fine Detail Optical Surveillance (FDOS), and regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that it is one of the many troubled, rather disturbing yet occasionally freakishly brilliant brainchildren of rogue US military boffin bureau DARPA. […]
The program can be described as developing the technology and systems analogous to that required for the rapid imaging and identification, without the need for scanning or focusing of the optical receiver, of a needle moving along the surface of a haystack, where the location and type of needle on the haystack is uncertain.