New Day Dawns for Thermal Imaging

Drop in price gives rise to increased adoption rate for thermal cameras


Thermal security cameras make pictures and video from heat, not light. They are affordable, available and becoming a "must have" technology for the security professional. Because thermal cameras require no light to see clearly and their cost has continued to drop, their adoption rate has skyrocketed in recent years. They continue to advance rapidly in the IP environment as end-users demand more from their cameras in all kinds of demanding and varied lighting conditions.

How it works and why

Recently, FLIR Systems re-defined the standard for imaging performance to high resolution 640x480 thermal cameras from earlier generation 320x240 products, offering a higher resolution which allows an end-user to cover the same area with fewer cameras.

High resolution cameras use more pixels in an image, enabling longer detection ranges with the same focal length lenses than their lower resolution counterparts are capable of, while providing wider fields of view for better coverage so facilities can use fewer cameras to cover the same perimeter. The bottom line for the installer is that higher resolution makes thermal cameras that can see smaller thermal signatures at greater distances for less money.

Increasing adoption

Thermal cameras solve the security professional's four biggest imaging challenges by letting you see in total darkness; in blindingly backlit conditions; through smoke, dust, and light fog; and in dense foliage.

Today, most integrators and users of video security networks understand the benefits of thermal imaging. New technologies such as Color Night Vision allow users to obtain high resolution video in very dim or no-light environments. By interconnecting thermal and Color Night Vision camera technologies, security professionals can get complete coverage 24 hours a day, in any weather, and improve the performance of their off-the-shelf analytics packages. Color Night Vision is a particularly effective complement to thermal cameras because it adds the target identification capability that only visible light imaging can provide. End-users can see colors, read words and numbers and see through glass. FLIR has also developed integrated multi-technological platforms like the FLIR Thermal Fence for total system interoperability.

Thermal imaging technology is an integral part of the video security plans of facilities worldwide. Seeing more for less; universal adoption; cross-technology interoperability-that's what the future has in store for thermal imaging.

Bill Klink is vice president of security & surveillance business development for FLIR Systems, Portland, Ore.