Your Two Minute Guide to Infrared Cameras

Infrared cameras and the technology behind them have featured heavily in recent news because of  its utilisation in ending the search for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Nevertheless infrared imaging has a very broad range of use which extends far beyond military and police employment.

Whereas a regular camera forms images using visible light, infrared, or thermographic, cameras build pictures using the radiation outside of our ocular range. Whereas we can feel heat energy, for example when standing next to a fireplace, the wavelengths of the energy being emitted are much too long to be visible to the naked eye or with the use of a conventional camera. This is where infrared cameras come in.

[medianetadv]Infrared energy was discovered by Sir William Herschel at the turn of the nineteenth century and crude infrared detection methods were used in the following decades as part of research as well as in the detection of icebergs and in the metal working industry. By the 1940’s work had begun on the very first infrared cameras, paving the way for military and eventually mass civil use some sixty years later.

Infrared cameras
Infrared cameras

Thanks in large part to the popularity of police television dramas, when many people think of infrared cameras their first thoughts tend to be of tracking down dangerous criminals during high-speed chases. In reality infrared imaging has many more, and often much less dramatic, utilisation. Over time the price of infrared imaging equipment has lowered, further broadening and increasing its use. As well as providing new equipment for purchase, many leading suppliers of test equipment such as MCS Test Equipment offer used, clearance and hire options.

Building, medical, quality control, auto-mobile and archaeology are just some of the sectors which rely heavily on infrared cameras through their application in energy audits and inspections, surgery and medical screenings and vehicle testing to name but a few.  They are also used in more unorthodox practices such as the search for the paranormal.

Infrared imaging is a vital tool which not only assists our police and armed forces. It also helps cut energy bills, provide vital services such as breast cancer screening, and enables us to better understand our past and present world.

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