Thermal Imaging and Its Wide Range of Applications

Thermal Imaging

While thermal imaging has a rich history in military and aerospace, its broad range of applications across various industries has resulted in explosive growth in this area. In general, thermal cameras (or IR imagers) produce an infrared (“IR”) image of the environment based on variations in surface temperature. The physics involved in generating the image is based on black body radiation laws and the ability of a detector to sense the IR emissions of objects and their surrounding backgrounds, with an object’s surface temperature producing a color contour of its emissivity. This allows for the visualization of warm-blooded animals and humans as they move through a scene.

The Heat of the Matter: Exploring the Versatility of Thermal Imaging

The ability to detect hot components in electrical systems and metal potential moisture or water leaks in buildings are common uses for thermal imagers. Additionally, the ability to monitor and identify energy inefficiencies for homes and businesses can improve comfort while saving money.

As the technology improves, it continues to expand in both commercial and industrial applications including industrial automation, building inspections, security and surveillance, fire fighting, and robotic vision. Moreover, a growing number of consumers are using thermal imaging to save energy through insulation and other conservation measures.

Despite the wide array of benefits, there are some who remain hesitant to utilize this technology in their respective fields. For instance, while many articles have appeared in the professional literature regarding landscape ecological implications of utilizing thermal infrared data, wildlife ecologists appear to remain reluctant to adopt this tool as a means to better understand animal behavior and ecology.

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