It wasn't too long ago when we’d still had to carry an external battery pack to power an oversized low-res thermal camera for an hour or two. How times have changed right? With the likes of the FLIR Lepton®, Thermoteknix MicroCAM™ and the DRS Infrared Tamarisk line we got plenty of options to choose from ranging from postage stamp to golf ball size.
A revolution in the thermal landscape
We’re going to witness a significant change in not only the available products with thermal imaging capabilities, but also the people using them and their intended purpose. There was a day we could simply divide thermal imaging uses in 2 classes: The surveillance class (military, hunting, border patrol, SAR) and the industrial class (machinery monitoring, home inspection and medical technologies).
With the decrease in size and manufacturing costs we’re now at a stage where thermal technology is ready for the masses. There’s no limit on human creativity and we already see our local electrician and home inspector carrying a mobile phone with thermal capabilities, our next-door neighbor creating kickass thermal drone videos and by 2025 the majority of cars will be standard equipped with thermal assistance. But that’s just the beginning really, every day we will slowly see more and more thermal around us, up to a point where we don’t even notice it anymore.
How does this affect ‘regular’ thermal imagers?
It’s hard to define regular, but of course, from NVDB’s point of view these are handheld monoculars, weapon sights, clip-ons and everything in between. Remember that surveillance class we talked about earlier? Right! They quite simply follow the same path. They get smaller, cheaper and more capable. We’re seeing a rapid increase in resolution, battery power and exciting features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS, range finders and digital compasses built into smaller housings.
Please keep in mind that although housings are getting smaller and we could pack all this into matchbox dimensions, the optics won’t be much smaller, for now. And without decent optics we will never have a satisfying top-performing device of course.