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Bi-spectral, AI, and other key trends in thermal cameras

Bi-spectral, AI, and other key trends in thermal cameras
Thermal cameras play a key role in security. While they are not new, they have evolved and improved over time to provide even more benefits. This note discusses some of the latest trends in thermal cameras.
Thermal cameras play a key role in security. While they are not new, they have evolved and improved over time to provide even more benefits. This note discusses some of the latest trends in thermal cameras, as well as the rising popularity of bi-spectral cameras that combine thermal and visible lenses.
Thermal cameras capture objects by way of detecting radiation emitting from the object. As such they do not need visible light and are quite useful when monitoring in total darkness. Over time, new technologies have been added to or are working in conjunction with thermal cameras, making them even more powerful. Below we take a look at some of the latest trends in thermal cameras/imaging.

AI and video analytics

AI and video analytics are now co-working with thermal cameras to increase accuracy and allow faster response. “Adding video analytics applications encourages swift and appropriate responses to detected events by analyzing them, automatically dismissing non-threatening ones and instantly notifying security staff of potentially critical situations,” said Magnus Lundegård, Global Product Manager at Axis Communications. “Security staff can then view footage to verify the nature of a threat – and act accordingly. For instance, it’s possible to, after a detection, check the footage to see if it’s an animal or in fact a human.”


Thermal cameras have also caught up with the cloud trend that’s popular in security now. “If customers select thermal cameras from specific vendors, they can be used with all major VMS on the market, cloud-based or on-premise, in the same way as traditional video surveillance cameras,” Lundegård said.


Thermal imager resolution has progressed from QVGA (320x240) to VGA (640x480) and then to HD (1080x720), even though VGA is now considered “high-resolution.” A higher resolution allows wider and greater-distance coverage. It however needs to be pointed out there’s always a balance to be made between resolution and cost.
“There are higher resolution thermal imaging sensors than 640x480, but at multiples of cost: a VGA sensor can be two or three times more expensive than a QVGA sensor, and HD resolution sensors are in turn typically several times more expensive than the VGA sensors. The higher resolution sensors are therefore mainly used in cameras for military and other sectors less sensitive to price,” Lundegård said.

Bi-spectral cameras

Increasingly, the market is seeing more and more bi-spectral cameras – thermal and visible lenses combined in one device – which bring various benefits.
“Bi-spectral cameras provide a powerful – and cost effective – combination of visual and thermal video streams in a single camera, where the ability to identify people through thermal detection, with visual identification through video, is a compelling benefit. Just one camera installed can provide both thermal detection (up to a far distance compared to a visual camera alone) and visual identification,” Lundegård said. “Additionally, the use of bi-spectral cameras enables the ongoing collection and analysis of data. When aggregated and used in machine learning (ML) applications, this information will lead to future innovations in operational efficiency, additional automation and proactive maintenance.”
Applications, meanwhile, are wide and varied, suiting users’ security and non-security requirements.
“In oil and gas processing plants, thermal cameras provide the basis for an automated flare monitoring system – critical in the performance and safety of the plant – and the use of bi-spectral brings additional benefits. Thermal images are optimal for analytics and automated monitoring, and high-resolution bi-spectral cameras allow human operators to assess flare behavior more clearly when alerted and are also essential in post-incident investigation,” Lundegård said.
Security-wise, bi-spectral cameras also have important use cases. “They are often used in border control. The ability even in pitch darkness for thermal cameras to detect people looking to cross a border, can then be combined with video surveillance when the specific area is flooded with light to identify individuals and aid border officers. When also combined with audio speakers, the deterrent to illegal border crossing is significant,” Lundegård said.

Product Adopted:
Surveillance Cameras
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