Many consumers still need clarification about night vision and thermal optics. While both allow people to “see” in the dark, the two are distinct from each other. For example, night vision optics use infrared lights to light or illuminate the view of the scope hunters attach to their rifles. On the other hand, thermal optics sees or senses the heat that objects generate.
Applications of thermal optics
Thermal optics is not only used on riflescopes. Most are built into thermal cameras for various applications in different industries. The most common application of thermal optics is in security. Thermal cameras allow people to see things not visible to their naked eyes, such as invisible heat radiation emitted or reflected by objects, even in very low light.
Thermal optics are components of many thermal optical systems used for the military, sciences, medical, industrial, surveillance, and imaging. As such, it is a part of various specialized equipment like thermal imaging cameras.
What is a thermal imaging camera?
A thermal imaging camera allows people to see what they cannot visually see with their eyes. The special camera can detect and take images of invisible heat radiation reflected or emitted by objects, even if a light is absent. Security cameras are vital equipment for the protection of major businesses worldwide. They can provide superior protection in low-light areas, limited visual view, and through the thick foliage.
How does thermal imaging work?
Thermal imaging works with the use of thermal lenses installed in a purpose-built camera. The thermal lenses detect infrared waves. It allows the equipment to see the heat coming from an object in varying degrees. The unit then assigns the differing temperature of an individual color to distinguish the primary object and the things around it. The camera then uses the captured data to create images for video, analog, or digital outputs.
Choosing a thermal imaging camera
Inside the thermal camera’s mechanical housing are its common parts: a lens, processing electronics, and a thermal sensor. The camera’s resolution depends on its sensor’s configuration (from 80 x 60 up to 1280 x 1024). A thermal imaging camera’s resolution is lower because it senses energy instead of light; thus, it needs larger sensors.
Depending on the purpose, consider these vital specifications when you purchase a thermal camera—spectral range, thermal sensitivity, focus, field of view, range, and resolution.
The increasing demand for thermal optics and thermal imaging cameras
In the past, military operations and surveillance were the exclusive users of thermal optics and cameras. But today, the potential uses are limitless. Thermal optics today are customizable and can be produced from different substrates to fit unique applications such as prisms, beamsplitters, filters, reflective optical components, and more.
Similarly, thermal cameras are widely used today for firefighting, scientific research, industrial inspection, skin temperature screening, building inspection, etc.
The projection is that thermal optics will become another feature of smartphones. Manufacturers will install it in the smartphone case. Therefore, the technology will be more accessible to a broader range of consumers. This means that soon, people can use their smartphones for night navigation, see things when the surrounding area is pitch black, and detect energy leaks in their homes.