Trying to find something hidden in plain view can be frustrating. Trying to find something in the dark can be even more so. However, with the help of a thermal imaging camera, you might be able to find what you are looking for.
So, what is a Thermal Imaging Camera anyway? This is a device used to “see” or create images by using IR radiation. Each object can emit its own level of temperature and the higher the temperature an object has, the more it emits IR radiation. As it depends primarily on the heat or radiation being emitted off the object, the camera doesn’t need any light. This makes it useful for areas that have little to no visibility, such as smoked-filled buildings or even underground.
These devices can be classified into two types: cameras with cooled infrared detectors and those that have uncooled detectors. Both of them come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Cameras with cooled infrared detectors must be operated in cold temperatures, usually around 4K to below room temperature, to obtain the needed infrared sensitivity. The advantage of using this type of thermal imaging camera is that it provides a superior image quality than those that use uncooled detectors. The downside is that these types of cameras need cooling systems which are usually bulky and expensive.
Those that use uncooled infrared detectors are used in ambient temperatures, so they don’t need any equipment to function. This makes these cameras more compact and less costly than their cooled counterparts. However, this results to lower resolution and image quality.
Nevertheless, when using both types of cameras, similar features are noted. Upon seeing an image of an object using the thermal imaging camera, you would notice that they have a single color channel. Simply put, colors are being used to help you determine the level of temperature of the image. For instance, the brightest parts of an image are the warmest areas and they are shown with the color white, whereas those that are not that hot are shown with yellow and red colors. Areas that are considered the coolest parts of the image are shaded with darker colors such as black. A color scale which corresponds to temperature levels is shown right next to the image.
There are many uses for thermal imaging cameras. These systems are sometimes used for military tactics, while some may use these cameras for determining possible leaks in houses and pipes. These thermographic cameras can also be used in the field of medicine.
Thermal imaging cameras are excellent devices used for locating things or objects that are not easily seen. Instead of seeing a normal image, you would see a false-color image with colors that are dependent on the object’s temperature level. There are also 2 types of infrared cameras and both of them have pros and cons. The possibilities are endless for this device, especially when it is already used in various areas such as military purposes and medicine.