Have you ever tried talking to people about Thermal camera .Well, the general response you receive is , “ohh.. , the night vision camera .” If you also have the same notion , you actually don’t know about this wonderful technology.

Although Thermal imaging is used for night vision ,both are not the same, and also ,apart from that thermal imaging has got a much wider area of application, to which people are unaware.

This main aim of this article is to demonstrate the various exiting use of thermal imaging .

Hope, after reading it you would appreciate thermal imaging more than you do it now. So,


But First,

What is Thermal Camera

A thermal camera is basically a bunch of infrared sensors that capture or sense the infrared, radiated from an object. The image is based on the difference of thermal radiation emitted from an object w.r.t to it’s surrounding . #### So do we see Infrared radiation ? well, actually not.Human eyes are not sensitive to it. The data from the thermal sensors are processed in form of an image and color is assigned based on camera settings. Here is the general working of thermal camera:


Are thermal imaging and night vision not the same thing?

well, technically not. Both, Thermal imaging and Night Vision increases visibility in low lighted areas but the technology used are different. Night vision camera capture both visible spectrum as well as short wave infrared, on the other hand thermal imaging capture just long wave infrared. Thermal imaging gives a high contrast image and thus identifying living targets is much easier in thermal imagery

Here is a nice comparison video between Thermal Imaging and Night Vision Clearly night vision is much popular in army and forest ranging

Can we use thermal camera in daylight

Yes, of course. Thermal Camera do not capture visible light, hence the picture are almost same in day as it is in night.

However , the surrounding is much cooler in night as compared to day , hence the pictures taken in daylight is not as contrast as they are in night and is a bit corrupted by noise You can compare the performance in this video

Hey, but still Thermal Imaging is a night vision technique only , right?” . If you are also pondering over the same question , here are some other cool stuffs for which Thermal Imaging is used for: Let us start with common use

Some common use of Thermal Imaging

Fire Fighting

Fire fighters use thermal imaging to see through smoke Wait a sec, But is smoke not warmer than it’s surrounding? Well may be , but smoke particles are too small to radiate enough infrared. Thermal cameras capture the infrared radiation and not the absolute heat of a body, hence smoke and fog is invisible to Thermal imaging (PS: Dense fog may interfere with Thermal vision)


Electronics and Machinery

Thermal imaging is used to find out which part of a circuit is hot and consuming more power. It ,hence helps in conserving power or preventing hazards


Medical Field

Thermal Imaging is popularly used to detect cancerous cells. HOW? The answer is that cancerous cells multiply really fast and hence radiate higher heat than other cells which is easily captured by thermal imaging.

Bored? Just Wait a sec These were the general uses of Thermal Imaging. However, the stuffs that are most astonishing are upcoming

Thermal Biometry

Biometric scanning systems were developed with an approach to create an unbeatable security system, however the fingerprint scanner and even the iris scanner could be easily hacked today. Hence, a more efficient technology is required for highly secure purpose. Well Thermal imaging provide us the way. Thermal waves are generated due to heat from the body. Thermal image of a human face contains the heat from the superficial blood vessel lying just beneath the face.


The blood vessel pattern can be easily created by Thermal imaging.The blood vessel pattern of face are unique for each person and can be used for biometric imaging and scanning


Well, not a good use of this wonderful technology, but yes, thermal imaging may be used to wrongfully access your passwords or pins. What Really? Yes, Thermal imaging can easily detect the buttons those were touched. In fact with a good quality camera you can even judge the order in which button are pressed. So,a little application of brain and your pin is out.


A Research conducted for the same ,states that there is about 80% chance of getting the pin , if the image was taken just after the entering the pin and 60% chance of getting the pin even if the image is taken after a minute time interval. The good thing is thermal imaging fail on metal keyboards(like the ones in the ATM). But still, the best thing to do is to press some random key after entering your pin.

The Green building project

The most innovative use of Thermal Imaging was carried out by Brian Harper, who was a part of the team that created the first thermal camera. He came up with an idea of carrying out an internal Thermal Survey of buildings. The thermal imaging showed the points in the building from where the energy leakage were the most. This made the people more likely to take action.


The survey was a great success as the householders who got the thermal survey reports were about 5 times more likely to take action. The project also made Thermal Camera cheaper and portable. Earlier ,the least cost of a Thermal Camera was around 10,000 US dollars(about 7,00,000 INR),but now it is available in about 400US dollars(28,000 INR) Even, now thermal devices are available for mobile phones. You just need to attach them to the camera of your mobile and you are good to go.


Thermal Imagery is quite new technology and hence is expensive. , but even after that it find its scope everywhere, say industry , home, defense , fun and much more. For sure it has got a lot of scope in the future, the requirement is only of an innovative mind to employ it in right way

Some more exciting stuffs in Thermal Imaging

BBC-Future-The man who makes you see the invisible

Thermal World of Chemical Reactions

FLIR SC6800 Midwave Research & Science Thermal Imaging Camera