Infrared thermal cameras are able to detect radiation in the infrared range of an electromagnetic spectrum. Thermal cameras provide visibility solutions in an otherwise un-illuminated environment by tracking variations in temperature. Warm objects stand out against cooler backgrounds when viewed through an infrared thermal camera. Technological developments have now allowed its applications in luxury cars, buses, and trucks as night vision systems.
Statistics show that the majority of fatal accidents happen at night. The risk of driving at night is two times higher than driving in the daytime. Limited lighting conditions on expressways and highways, judgment errors of speed or distance, and driving into headlights of oncoming traffic all pose threats to drivers. Infrared thermal cameras equip drivers with a clearer vision on dark and unlit roads. These night vision systems rely on either of the two technologies that are currently available in the market. Near-infrared (NIR)
radiation, also known as active infrared, works through infrared headlights that illuminate the road ahead, enabling drivers to see converted images of people or animals that are displayed on the screen more clearly. Far-infrared (FIR) systems register the difference in heat or infrared radiation emitted by the objects and do not require any independent source of light from the vehicle.
Thermal cameras have broader applications since drivers not only get the benefit of clearer night vision, but can also detect obstacles on the road, other cars, and sharp bends much sooner, giving them more reaction time.
Modern-day buses and trucks have also become luxury vehicles considering the huge investments in maintaining and protecting them. Such large vehicles in accidents can cause serious damage. Not only does this lead to ruined vehicles, but also to loss of expensive cargo, increased environmental risks in case of hazardous goods, and, most importantly, loss of lives. The ever-increasing demand for infrared thermal cameras for such lateral applications has resulted in effectively bringing down the costs of equipment.
Technological advances in this field now enable integration of real-world images with thermal ones. Newer models such as the TI 45 thermal cameras amalgamate two images to form a picture-in-picture output. The implementation of this can exponentially benefit a driver. The TI 45 also allows users to set alarm limits over the visible light image to identify objects exceeding temperature limits. Thermal cameras such as this also find extensive applications in military and industrial set-ups.