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Higher resolution, intelligence drive growth of thermal imaging

Higher resolution, intelligence drive growth of thermal imaging

Unlike typical cameras which shoot objects that reflect visible light, thermal cameras capture images through heat emitted from objects. This makes thermal cameras an ideal solution for shooting in total darkness.

The world has seen increasing demands for thermal cameras due to various factors. Besides a price reduction for many devices, a main growth driver has been significant improvement in image resolution. Former QVGA-quality video with resolution of 320 x 240 has been raised to D1 resolution, or 640 x 480.

There are several ramifications to this evolution, a major one being better intelligence on cameras: in the past they could detect a heat-emitting source; now they can decide whether that source is a human or a cat. With that, thermal imaging sees increasing applications in perimeter security and transportation, whereby cameras can detect the size of a vehicle, how long it has parked at a particular location, and how environmental it is by analyzing the amount of heat it emits.

Some camera models

Among the various models out there, FLIR Systems’ TCX PTZ is billed by the company as the industry’s most affordable, high-performance thermal PTZ camera. Priced at less than 30 percent of previous thermal PTZs, the camera integrates with existing alarm sensors to deliver accurate, real-time visual assessment and alarm verification. Available in 640 x 480 resolution, the device has on-board video motion detection (VMD) analytics for accurate intrusion detection round the clock, giving users the advantage to see clearly in complete darkness without any illumination, in bright sunlight, through smoke, dust, or even light fog.

SightSensor XA by SightLogix, meanwhile, is a wide-area smart thermal camera with embedded video analytics that provides accurate intruder detection over an outdoor area as large as a football field. According to the company, with wide area coverage and detection accuracy, a single SightSensor XA thermal camera can replace many conventional cameras otherwise needed. With resolution of 640 x 480, the SightSensor XA comes with intelligence features such as:

  • Geo-registration to ignore small animals, blowing trash, and outdoor movement while detecting people all the time;
  • Geospatial detection zones based on target size, speed, and direction;
  • Hands-free PTZ steering to zoom and follow targets for more detail;
  • Targets projected onto a sitemap for real-time situational awareness.

Axis Communications’ Q19 thermal network cameras are touted by the company as a perfect tool for perimeter protection, offering highly performing video analytics. The cameras are available in 640 x 480 resolution and can detect people, objects, and incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from pitch dark areas to a sunlit parking lot. According to Axis, this makes it possible to acknowledge suspect activity already before intrusion, and to visually verify what is going on before taking relevant action.

Growth trend inevitable

The potential of thermal imaging is not to be ignored. A recent study by MarketsandMarkets forecasts that the global thermal imaging market is expected to grow from US$7.3 billion in 2015 to $10 billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.6 percent. With higher resolution and better intelligence, thermal imaging's growth prospects are all but inevitable.

Product Adopted:
Network Cameras

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