How to choose the right thermal camera for outdoor protection
Source: Prasanth Aby Thomas, Consultant Editor
In the world of physical security, thermal cameras belong to a class in themselves. Unlike daylight cameras that can capture everything the eye can see and even aid in recognizing what is captured through analytics, thermal cameras have a rather narrow range of applications.
But this doesn’t mean thermal cameras are not popular in security. On the contrary, the thermal imaging systems market that includes verticals like surveillance, security, and defense is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.78 percent from 2019 to 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence. Security and surveillance account for a large chunk of the market share.
There are several advantages that thermal cameras offer. They can provide excellent coverage of outdoor areas
without the support of any lighting systems. Thermals also provide great range, compared to their daylight counterparts, with even a low-end camera being able to see across several meters. This means better coverage and protection for customers.
What to know when choosing a thermal camera
Outdoor cameras are always a tricky affair. The environment is often harsh, with weather conditions that could be extreme depending on where you are, intrusion from small animals, trash, foliage, etc., mandating the camera to be robust enough to withstand such things. Here’s a brief overview of some of the key factors to consider before purchasing a thermal camera, listed by Sightlogix
in a blog post.
Integrated image processing
Traditionally, thermal cameras have used processors that work with compressed video, but this drastically reduces the amount of information captured by the camera. However, some of the best thermal cameras out there come with powerful processors that can handle the raw images as they are captured. This helps to ensure that 100 percent of the details in the video are available for analysis, boosting accuracy
even in unfavorable weather conditions.
Consider the range
An ideal thermal camera should also be able to provide considerably long-range and coverage, detecting people or human-sized targets at distances beyond 600 meters. A single thermal camera can hence cover an area that would otherwise require multiple regular cameras.
Differentiating people from distractions
Smart thermal cameras are designed to detect movement. However, they should also be able to know that not everything that moves is worth your attention.
“Knowing the actual size of objects lets you create size rules to filter unwanted movement and increase accuracy,” Sightlogix notes. “This is accomplished with cameras that are geo-registered to the scene. When you install a geo-registered camera, a simple GUI-based calibration is able to determine the true size of everything in the scene, creating a three-dimensional field of view. Using this information, the camera can ignore small animals, blowing debris, or moving foliage, while detecting human-sized intruders over very large areas with impressive accuracy.”
When it comes to outdoor security, the pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) option is often vital as it helps to cover as wide a range as possible. However, if you are going to have to manually control the PTZ to steer it towards an area that requires attention, things would be difficult. To overcome this challenge, some thermal cameras are programmed to turn and zoom towards a location of alert in real-time, allowing operators to accurately pinpoint an issue as soon as it occurs.
Outdoor and thermal cameras often have to deal with high winds and other such disturbances that cause devices to vibrate. Vibration makes image detection difficult, significantly lowering the efficiency of the camera. Image stabilization helps to overcome this issue, ensuring the footage remains steady and suitable for analytics.
Some thermal imaging solution providers offer their cameras with analytics that are pre-optimized with the camera. For the customer, this is an easy way to avoid having to integrate a particular manufacturer’s camera with another manufacturer’s analytic solution. However, the final choice in this regard should be made after considering the quality of both the camera and the analytic solution. In case, you feel that a third-party analytic solution offers better results, integrating the same with the camera would make more sense.