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INSIGHTS

Thermal camera applications: To security and beyond

Thermal camera applications: To security and beyond
Thermal cameras are ideal for a range of applications. This article discusses what some of them are.
Thermal cameras detect objects by sensing radiation emitted from the target. As such no visible light is needed. This makes thermal cameras ideal for a range of applications. This article discusses what some of them are.
 
Thermal cameras are nothing new. But new features and functions make them popular as ever. Growth has been quite steady as well. According to Allied Market Research, the global thermal camera market size was valued at US$3.2 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $7.5 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 10 from 2021 to 2030.
 
Since thermal cameras use thermal radiation as a detection method, they are quite useful when visible light is limited. “Thermal cameras are suitable in many environments, but particularly those where there is sometimes no light at all. Because thermal cameras capture images based solely on the heat radiating from people and objects, they are able to see a clear outline of a potential threat, no matter how poor the visibility – they’re as accurate in no light and camouflage as they are on a bright sunny day,” said Magnus Lundegård, Global Product Manager at Axis Communications.
 
Applications vary and can benefit users in a range of scenarios. Below we look at some of thermal cameras’ major use cases.
 

Security

 
Security remains an important application of thermal cameras which can detect threats and suspicious individuals regardless of lighting conditions.
 
“Thermal cameras are especially valuable in protecting large perimeters that are difficult to monitor fully by security personnel. Thermal cameras enable efficient detection of intruders through analytics such as cross line detection, motion detection, and loitering detection in defined areas. If thermal cameras detect that an individual has come too close to the perimeter an alarm or audio warning can be triggered. The reduction in false alarms mean that security teams can concentrate their efforts on specific incidents,” Lundegård said.
 

Beyond security

 
More and more, thermal cameras have applications that go beyond security. One good example is detecting elevated body temperature, during and post-pandemic. In certain end user organizations such as factories or data centers, thermal cameras can also come in handy, making sure that machines or equipment are not overheating.
 
“Thermal cameras can be also used for remote temperature monitoring for business-critical use, such as in a data center where equipment running at optimum temperatures and not overheating is essential for performance and safety. Such temperature alarm cameras are also useful for sensing heat and monitoring temperature-critical areas such as medical storage facilities,” Lundegård said.
 
He added: “By adding thermal information to surveillance solutions, it is possible to monitor processes and detect abnormal behavior when temperatures change, which includes finding heat leaks in buildings or detecting anomalies in industrial applications, such as overheating in machinery or motors. With analytics, an overheating server can be identified, and an alert sent to the IT department to fix the issue before it escalates, potentially preventing system downtime and the associated losses from the company experiencing IT issues.”
 

Maintaining privacy

 
A main characteristic of thermal imaging is it only shows the outline of an object, not specific identifiable features. As such thermal cameras are useful in venues where privacy protection is critical.
 
“For instance, this means that hospitals can use thermal imaging to detect patient incidents, such as falls or elopements, while maintaining patient privacy. Hospital workers can verify whether an incident has taken place from the camera station and if it is a high-risk situation, deploy help. This not only reduces the rate of false alarms but minimizes interruptions for the patient – something that is vital during recuperation periods,” Lundegård said.
 

Selecting the right thermal camera

 
As with other types of cameras, selecting the right thermal camera requires careful assessment.
 
“In all surveillance or monitoring situations where cameras are considered, it is important to bring knowledgeable persons to the site in question and request a demonstration of performance and features. Only in the actual environment can a camera solution be fully and accurately evaluated. If several types of cameras or brands are considered a shoot-out, comparing the different alternatives could be a good way forward,” Lundegård said.
 
“Site and solution design tools allow customers to evaluate different camera models, mounting options and lenses as well as placements of cameras and other solution components. They also prompt more specific questions for demos and evaluations, ensuring that all the needs are addressed by the final solution,” he added.
 


Product Adopted:
Surveillance Cameras
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