Axis looks to heat up thermal imaging camera business

With introduction of $3K thermal IP cameras, Axis forecasts adoption in commercial security marketplace

"It depends on how the analytics companies have their analytics algorithms," explains Nilsson. "If they are tracking people by the colors of jackets, then that would be impossible [because thermal does not produce real color images]. Pixel-based and blob-based algorithms would work best."

Being that these are IP cameras and are ONVIF standards compatible, Nilsson notes that they have the ability to be used by any variety of video management systems which support Axis cameras (many other thermal imaging solutions require their proprietary management systems be used), and the cameras can use power over Ethernet (PoE) to simplify cabling for power and data transmission.

The Axis cameras the (Q1910 indoor and the Q1910-E outdoor) offer a range designed commercial applications. These aren't the defense models that can watch individuals from miles away as they approach military bases and nuclear plants, but they can detect persons at up to 220 yards, and can detect vehicles at up to 600 yards.

Nilsson says it may be the beginning of a strong market shift for thermal into the commercial sector.

"If we are successful, I think we will see other companies coming out with competitive products in a year, but that could be sooner. I think it makes sense to use some thermal cameras in many surveillance systems."

Quick facts on thermal imaging cameras:

  • Thermal cameras detect heat, and register that heat as temperature differentials
  • Thermal cameras do not "see" color, though manufacturers often give end-users different color schemes for seeing the heat imaging – black/white, multi-colored
  • Thermal cameras still leave subjects anonymous; they do not capture details like faces. Most manufacturers recommend using thermal in conjunction with standard cameras if the end-user needs surveillance for individual identification as opposed to threat detection.
  • Thermal cameras cannot see through glass, and thus can't be used with standard enclosures with glass view plates.
  • The expensive part of thermal cameras is the lenses, which use the mineral germanium, instead of optical glass.
  • Concrete can sometimes reflect thermal radiation, and system specifying engineers should assess the site with this in mind.
  • Rain can challenge thermal cameras; the rain can cool down the temperature of an individual, making the person more difficult to detect.
  • Thermal cameras constantly recalibrate themselves to the environment's overall temperature so they can still measure thermal differentials.