What Is Thermal Cameras & How Does It Works?

Have you seen those machines which doctors and medical staff hold in front of a person? Or those cameras located at the entrance of your office? Well, this machine is nothing but a thermal camera/scanner.

The medical staff holds this thermal camera to measure a persons’ body temperature staying afar from the person. Those located in your office buildings also do the same job. Amazing, right? But how does the machine do this? What is the method by which it measures the temperature from staying far? How do thermal cameras work?

How Thermal Cameras Work?

Thermal or infrared energy, also known as heat, is detected by these thermal cameras. These non-contact devices detect the heat and convert them into visual images. The same way how regular daylight cameras convert the visible light into an image.

How Does Thermal Cameras Measure Human Body Temperature?

As told earlier, thermal scanners detect heat and then convert it into a visible image. When measuring human body temperature, these cameras are held at a distance enough to measure the heat of a human body.

The thermal scanners capture the infrared rays or heat coming from the human body and then use the data to create images showing the human body temperature. They create these images by means of digital or analog video outputs.

They scan your body from a distance and convert the data to a thermograph or image. Then send it to the operator who can thus see your body temperature as given by the machine.

Thermal cameras can detect the infrared energy or heat that is emitted, transmitted, and reflected at a temperature of above absolute zero (0 degrees Kelvin) and then convert it into a thermogram or a temperature reading, which is then displayed on a screen.

Do Thermal Cameras Give Accurate Reading?

Thermal Cameras are believed to be very useful, especially in this pandemic situation. But do they give accurate readings every time? According to experts, they are not always true to the temperature. These thermal cameras claim to detect fevers from afar but may not always be effective.

How thermal camera work
How Thermal camera/Scanners are being used at Airports & Shopping Malls to manage the crowd and permit only people with no symptoms.

Thermal cameras hold an accuracy of only +/- 2 degrees Celsius at best. This wide range of variance is a major concern for thermal cameras. Having this wide variance in the temperature, they can read a person’s temperature as very high to 103.2 degrees Fahrenheit when they actually have a body temperature of 98.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, they cannot be fully trusted upon while measuring the body temperature as they could just show a hike in the body temperature when the human body is running on average body temperature. This is why they should always be crossed checked with a thermometer.

Advantages of a Thermal Camera?

  • An efficient and safer method of measurement of temperature.
  • Regular predictive maintenance of machines using thermal imaging can saves repair cost.
  • Provide fast and accurate measurements of objects difficult to touch/to reach.
  • Allows accurate temperature measurements of machines from a distance and in running condition.
  • Accurate measurement of running machines which are very hot and dangerous to contact.
  • Help in identifying air leakages, documenting irregular heat dispersion, and identifying possible irregularities in insulation.

Applications of Thermal Camera/Scanner?

Initially used during the Korean War, the thermal cameras/scanners have proved useful in various fields, some of which are for:

  • Building inspection
  • Fault diagnosis and troubleshooting
  • Law enforcement and anti-terrorism
  • Thermography (medical) – Medical testing for diagnosis.
  • For detecting breast cancer, veterinarian thermal imaging, fever detection, etc.
  • Automotive night vision
  • Chemical imaging
  • Research and development of new products
  • Pollution effluent detection
  • Locating pest infestations
  • Cricket- Umpire Decision Review System.
  • Autonomous navigation
  • Night-time wildlife photography

Wrap up

Considering the current pandemic situation, we think the thermal camera is blessing, if you want to use them to measure the temperature of a crowd, say your office employees, your patients, residents of your society, shopping malls, Airports, children studying in your school, etc., then these thermal cameras/scanner can prove helpful for you.

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