Thermal Imaging is a technology that can provide many benefits in a wide range of applications. In particular, thermal imaging cameras have been deployed successfully as highly affordable solutions in the security industry. Accepted throughout the industry as the best 24-hour visual surveillance imaging solutions available, thermal security cameras are vital tools in securing borders, airports, sea ports, nuclear facilities, and other critical infrastructure. Today these affordable solutions are also protecting homes, corporate campuses, industrial facilities and retail businesses.
Thermal security cameras let people see what their eyes can’t: invisible heat radiation emitted by all objects regardless of lighting conditions. Because they see heat, not light, thermal cameras are effective tools in any security setting. They can easily detect intruders and other potential hazards in any weather, as well as all day and all night.
Cameras that create images based on visible light, like conventional CCTV and illuminated cameras, have the advantage of creating images that are familiar and easy to interpret. Unfortunately, the ability of a given detector – be it in an eyeball or a camera – to create these images relates directly to the amount of light available.
At night, for instance, when there isn’t much visible light to work with, we are limited to what we can see. Another limitation of cameras that create images from reflected visible light is contrast, while thermal cameras do not suffer from this basic limitation of visible-light imaging.
Thermal cameras make pictures from heat, not light, having nothing whatsoever to do with reflected light energy. They see the heat given off by everything under the sun. Everything we encounter in daily life creates heat energy, called a “heat signature,” that thermal cameras can see clearly.
These advantages over visible cameras have lead to the wide spread use of thermal to detect the presence of people in restricted or suspect areas, assess the tactical situation, and respond accordingly. Because no one can hide their heat, thermal security cameras are the best tool to determine how many intruders they’re facing, and consequently how many officers or agents should respond to meet the threat
One of the biggest benefits of thermal imaging comes in the domain of security. Security cameras have become a staple of protection for many (if not all) major businesses across the country, and in such a domain, the need to produce images of surrounding perimeters is critical to provide constant protection against potential intruders. No matter what you need to see, or where you need to see it from, thermal security cameras let you see clearly, even through total darkness, camouflaging foliage, smoke, dust, and light fog.
When cameras are monitoring the perimeter of a building, they must often deal with low light scenarios (for example, during nighttime hours) - and this is a domain where thermal imaging cameras can truly shine.
The two images below (Image 1a and 1b) illustrate the difference between thermal imaging and non-thermal imaging camera technology. On the left is a “normal” image that a non-thermal camera would produce in low light, while on the right is an image produced by a thermal imaging camera. The difference is like night and day.
Immune to Visual limitations
Visible cameras, much like our eyes, often have trouble seeing through naturally occurring visual obscurants that block reflected light. But since thermal radiation passes through these obscurants thermal cameras can see what going on where visible cameras cannot.
Regular cameras that capture only visible light can be fooled in some cases by visual camouflage, or in situations where similar colors or patterns blend together and thus obscure objects or people that need to be detected. Thermal imaging cameras often perform better than other night-vision systems, such as cameras based on IR Illumination technology. For example, an intruder standing under a densely-branched tree may be hard to detect by an IR Illumination camera, but with a thermal imaging camera the intruder would be clearly visible.
Detection of heat
Or, when you simply need to detect heat as in the hottest or coldest object in a scene. The following image clearly shows which car just arrived in the parking lot.
Another reason why thermal imaging cameras often prove cost-effective is that they help reduce the number of false alarms experienced in a business protection scenario.
Visible light cameras can be easily fooled by many naturally-occurring phenomena, such as blowing trees, shadows, insects, birds, or oncoming cars. In terms of motion detection, microwave, fence sensors, motion sensors, RAFID, and radar can all detect a possible intrusion, but they are essentially “blind” technologies compared to thermal imaging. When a motion sensor is triggered, a user still needs an additional method of assessing the nature of the alarm, in order to determine the most appropriate response (for example, is it a person climbing the fence or just a harmless squirrel).
Because of their high-contrast video output, security professionals have found that thermal security cameras work very well with video analytics, providing more reliable alarming with fewer false reports than visible-light cameras, even during the day. Thermal imaging security cameras offer both alarming capabilities and reliable images - two solutions in one.
Thermal Imaging cameras are a very affordable option for many businesses who want to ensure they have the best security and protection solution on the market today.
Prices for thermal imaging cameras have come down substantially in recent years, to the point where they are on a par with regular visible-light cameras, while providing the ability to capture images that (in many situations) regular cameras simply cannot match.
In addition, the total cost of ownership of a security system with thermal imaging cameras is, in general, much lower than a CCTV security system, for two main reasons.
First, a business would require fewer thermal imaging cameras than they would need if they were deploying CCTV cameras, thanks to the excellent range performance of thermal imaging cameras. Since each camera needs a mast to be mounted on, a power line, and a video feedback connection, the fact that fewer cameras are required means that a business can keep their infrastructure simple, which minimizes maintenance costs.
Another area of cost savings: thermal imaging cameras work perfectly in complete darkness, and thus businesses do not need to install any lighting in order for the cameras to do their job of maintaining security and providing protection. Not only is lighting expensive to install, it also requires a great deal of electricity to keep those lights on every single night.
Businesses that wish to monitor multiple areas of their premises would be wise to deploy one or more thermal imaging cameras to provide the best protection against potential intruders, especially to achieve maximum security at night - when visible light is either low or nonexistent.
In short, any business that wants to achieve the maximum level of security and protection for their valuable intellectual and physical property should consider deploying a thermal imaging solution.
FLIR's thermal cameras deliver unique performance benefits that allow video analytics to work much better for perimeter intrusion detection. Critical infrastructures like nuclear power plants, bridges, production facilities, and telecommunications facilities all require continuous video security monitoring. For these applications, thermal cameras with video analytics are the hardest intrusion detection technology for adversaries to defeat.
Alarm systems might be a good way to scare off thieves and attackers for your business, but if you really want to make it difficult for people with bad intentions, then a Smoke Screen security system is the way to go. Upon the event of a break in, the system can be activated remotely, and with thermal cameras from FLIR Systems, control room operators can see through the smoke to know exactly what’s going on.