Advanced Imaging

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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

From Home Security to Homeland Security

Day or night, thermal security cameras keep watch on the borders and in your neighborhoods
FLIR Systems
Thermal security cameras make video images from heat, not reflected light, so they can see clearly night and day.
Figure 2: Right:Security lights and infrared illuminators (image on left)leave large areas uncovered that intruders can exploit to gain access to sensitive facilities.
Thermal security cameras are available in dome, fixed-site, pan/tilt, and handheld configurations.
Fixed-site thermal security cameras provide constant surveillance over fixed points like access areas and sensitive facilities. This one is watching over a sensitive harbor entrance.
Inexpensive hand-held thermal cameras provide 24-hour vision to homeowners and security professionals alike.
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By David Lee

Support Infrastructure

Economically, the costs involved in the design, installation, operation, and upkeep of a support infrastructure of lighting towers and illuminators quickly outstrips the acquisition cost of a network of thermal security cameras. Because they’re not dependant on any visible light, thermal security cameras don’t need auxiliary lighting to work, so they can provide effective virtual perimeters for a fraction of the cost of visible-light imagers.

Conventional CCTV cameras—even ones claiming to be “lowlight”—need an outside source of illumination if they’re going to create an image after the sun goes down. This limits their practical utility to the range of their illumination source, which can be as little as a few hundred feet, when the tactical situation may require surveillance capability that stretches for miles. With roughly half of every day happening after the sun drops below the horizon, homes, factories, and borders can be left under-secured for large portions of every day.

24/7 Video Coverage

Thermal security cameras let people see what their eyes can’t: invisible heat radiation emitted by all objects regardless of lighting conditions. Thermal cameras detect the minute temperature differences between objects, and turn them into video that displays on almost any TV monitor.

Because they see heat, not light, thermal cameras are effective law enforcement tools in any environment. They can easily detect intruders and other potential hazards to the security of people and infrastructure in any weather, as well as all day and all night.

Cameras that create images based on visible light, like conventional CCTV and illuminated cameras, have the advantage of creating images that are familiar and easy to interpret. Unfortunately, the ability of a given detector—be it in an eyeball or a camera—to create these images relates directly to the amount of light available.



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