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Themography is a rapidly growing field. It refers to the use of thermal imaging equipment, such as thermal cameras, to gain images of an environment that are essentially displayed as heat. This process allows users to spot errors that are hidden to the human eye, and thermal imaging systems are being gradually adopted into various different fields including electrical work, home/property surveillance, firefighting, marine, policing and security, wildlife tracking and countless others.
Thermal cameras see the world very differently to how the human eye does. Our eyes rely on visible light passing into them to construct images using feedback from our brains in complex patterns, but thermal imaging devices use infrared (IR) light instead to create an image. IR light is completely invisible to the human eye; this type of light is outside the spectrum of light that our eyes can detect, but is all around us on a daily basis.
IR light is often referred to as IR radiation, and it is this that a thermal camera picks upon to relay an image. Practically every object around us, whether its a desk, or an ice cube, gives off some kind of IR radiation, giving it some form of temperature. Human bodies are particularly noticeable for giving off a significant amount of IR radiation, leading to human heat-maps looking particularly strong when looked at through a thermal camera.
Thermal camera use complex algorithms and thermal lenses to pick up on this heat distribution and relay what they see as a thermal image. This allows users to pinpoint exactly where hotspots and coldspots might be in whatever they are looking at, and is an absolutely great tool for performing non-invasive measurements of a wide variety of applications without the need to perform complex testing procedures.
When used in electrical applications, thermal surveying allows users to tell at a glance when electrical components are functioning incorrectly. This is usually shown as a component putting out extreme levels of heat compared to others in a system, and by carrying out this thermal survey ahead of time the person doing the surveying can take action against the steadily overheating component(s) before they become a more significant problem.
Handheld thermal imaging systems are gradually starting to be adopted by policemen and security patrolmen as well. This is because the thermal camera can be used to effectively see through complete darkness (remember they don't use visible light - IR light is present even at night), through foliage and even through camouflage worn by criminals and those in areas where they shouldn't be. This aids police in particular with capturing hiding criminals - what might have otherwise went unnoticed is easily detected because the officers can clearly see the heat distribution of the person they are chasing.
FLIR, one of the world's premier thermal camera manufacturers, create a wide range of different thermal imaging cameras suitable for use by security and in other law enforcement applications. The FLIR LS, BHS and HS range are all made with this field in mind, and allow servicemen to detect and track criminals while remaining unseen themselves. When combined with airborne thermal systems these cameras create a comprehensive field of view and improve overall efficiency out in the field.
The thermal camera is also becoming a widely popular tool with firefighters. Since they work in extremely challenging environments on a daily basis that are often filled with obscuring smoke and fire, firefighters can use thermal imaging systems to see through smoke and can detect other things such as fire distribution and the heat signatures of trapped people. This enables firefighters to react quicker to problems and can be an essential tool for ultimately saving lives. Some thermal cameras are also able to be mounted directly onto firefighting helmets and the image gained can be relayed wirelessly to a control point where a controller can give advice to firefighters currently in a building. There's also a range of handheld firefighting thermal devices that are perfect for quick and easy operation.
The use of thermal imaging cameras in building surveillance is also becoming increasingly more common. A lot of problems with buildings are not easily detected by just taking a look - problems with insulation, moisture content in the walls and various other problems might otherwise go undetected unless they're seen with a thermal camera. For example imagine there was moisture under the surface of building materials, in the ceiling of a property. The moisture content might not be great enough to create a stain on the ceiling (yet!) but the water underneath the surface might be gradually building up as a result of a leak or water seeping in from outside. A thermal camera would be able to detect this moisture distribution under the surface of the material and the moisture patch would be easily identifiable because the water has cooled the area and will thus be in contrast to the area around it when viewed through the lens of a thermal imaging system.
These are just some of the examples of thermal imaging systems. They're used in countless other applications including CCTV systems and there's even a selection of devices known as IR windows that allow users to see into electrical boxes without disconnecting the system.
If you have any questions whatsoever please give us a call. Our team consists of several trained thermographers who are on hand every day from 8:30-5:30 to give assistance on any products available in our thermal imaging camera range.