Thermal imaging is a service that many commercial drone companies are either currently utilizing or are considering to add value to their client portfolios. Why, because thermal imaging is an excellent way to add value to aerial flight information in ways and times of day that you can not do with traditional cameras. They add value to aerial photography as it measures heat.
Real estate, construction, search and rescue (think finding someone at night), conservation, etc. all use thermal cameras for some applications.
If you are not quite a familiar, let’s take a step back. What is a thermal camera? From Wikipedia, “thermographic camera (also called an infrared camera or thermal imaging camera) is a device that forms an image using infrared radiation, similar to a common camera that forms an image using visible light.”
OK, we have some idea of what a thermal camera is, let’s go down one level, here is some additional information from the Grainger website, on what to look for in a Thermal Imaging Camera.
“There are a number of components that contribute to both the quality and the cost of a thermal imaging camera. The two most important factors are the detector resolution and the thermal sensitivity.
The detector resolution describes the number of pixels. The most common resolutions are 160 x 120, 320 x 240 and 640 x 480 pixels. A 320 x 240 detector produces an image composed of 76,800 pixels. Since each pixel has a temperature associated with it that is 76,800 temperature data points. Higher resolutions also produce visibly clearer images.
Thermal sensitivity is the smallest temperature difference the camera can detect. A sensitivity of 0.05° means the camera can distinguish between two surfaces with only a five-hundredths of a degree temperature difference.
Another important factor to consider is the thermal imaging camera’s temperature range. The range tells what the minimum and maximum temperatures are that the camera can measure (-4°F to 2200°F is typical).
To obtain the best thermal image to analyze, there are four adjustments that can be made to most cameras: focus, emissivity setting changes, reflective temperature setting changes and thermal tuning. Each of these adjustments must be considered when selecting a thermal imaging camera.
Just like a standard camera, the lens of the thermal imaging camera needs to be focused to enhance the clarity of the image. Most cameras can be focused by twisting the lens. More sophisticated cameras have a push-button focus.”.
To see it in action, here are our friend at Roswell Test Crew that are taking a look at the FLIR Duo thermal camera, a mid-range thermal camera that can be used some commercial applications.
The crew walks us through the FLIR Duo. It is a thermal camera that will mount to most gimbals, will run on both Android and iOS applications, has a traditional 3 color palette’s, a White Hot, a HotMetal, and a Rainbow color palette, and other features that make it a camera to consider for some commercial applications.
There are a variety of display options including a picture in picture mode that lets you see the thermal image in a picture on the upper right of your screen, and a mode that allows you to create a hybrid image for viewing.
Interesting to see an example of a roof inspection where from the camera view it looks fine but the thermal view shows damaged shingles that are allowing heat to escape. Very cool.
Looking to take your business to the next step? Take a look at thermal imaging and how they can add value to your clients.
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