Thermal cameras: Thermal technology faces market challenges

Thermal cameras: Thermal technology faces market challenges

Even though the price of thermal equipment is coming down, that does not mean that the thermal market is suddenly seeing a massive surge in growth. As a market that has been dealing with the “thermal is too expensive” argument, industry players are actively doing what they can to dissuade consumers of this thermal myth.

Education, Education, Education
Lack of education and awareness is one of the main challenges being faced by the thermal security market. Bercier explained that the security industry is not educated enough on the benefits of thermal for security applications. Thermal industry players want the security market to understanding that thermal is the most effective 24/7 video detection solution available. Many have pointed out that detection range and the ability to record the temperature of objects detected are major benefits of thermal imaging for security.

One of the main advantages that thermal cameras have over visible cameras is the ability to detect under all types of weather conditions, be it snow, rain, fog, etc., as well as harsh lighting conditions such as blinding sunlight or pitch black nights. This makes thermal cameras the best solution for 24/7 security surveillance.

The thermal industry as a whole is working hard to educate the security market on these benefits. Through participation in exhibitions, showcases, seminars, etc. around the world, thermal industry players are doing what they can to spread awareness. An increasing number of thermal players are showcasing products in exhibitions worldwide. These exhibitions not only provide a platform for the thermal industry to get out information regarding the benefits of thermal imaging, but it to also give consumers a chance to see for themselves just how thermal imaging works.

Highlighting how a thermal solution can be more economical than a traditional visible solution is another point thermal players are trying to educate the market on. Infrastructure costs are a major consideration of any outdoor video security solution, whether it is thermal, IP, or analog. While it may be true that thermal cameras cost a lot more than the average HD IP camera, those in the thermal industry are quick to point out that a thermal solution can actually be the more affordable long-term solution. When taking into account that longer-range thermal cameras cover more area, thereby eliminating the number of poles and cameras needed, as well as reduce the need for lighting and power infrastructures, thermal cameras prove to not only be affordable, but practical as well.

Spoiled by HD
Unfortunately, in an age where megapixel cameras have made its way into mobile phones, consumers have not only gotten used to a certain level of clarity when it comes to images, they expect it. Consumers want high definition — they want to be able to see every strand of hair and every bead of sweat. Hence, when it comes to thermal imaging, the question of why a consumer would want to take a black and white image that's much lower in resolution, as compared to HD images, is raised. “People out there today are confusing security with surveillance,” said Romanowich. “If you care about security, then having the absolute best image sometimes is not as relevant as having a really good image all the time.” This lack of differentiation between security and surveillance is a challenge being faced by the thermal imaging community when it comes time to choose between a thermal imaging solution and a standard visible camera solution.

As the thermal imaging industry tackles market misconceptions, lower prices at both the sensor and camera level will help attract more markets to this highly effective technology. Growing awareness and education regarding the benefits of thermal imaging for security applications will hopefully not only dispel the myths about thermal prices and application restrictions, but also allow for thermal imaging to flourish into even more commercial sectors and beyond.

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