The term FLIR stands for forward looking infrared, and is used to refer to a
thermal imaging camera device or infrared camera. FLIR infrared cameras can be
used to see in total darkness and in almost any weather condition. They are also
capable of scanning broad areas as opposed to having to stay focused on a single
spot. This makes these thermal imaging devices a good choice to use aboard
aircrafts or in satellite devices that need to cover larger areas. In this
article, we will briefly explore how this infrared technology works, and then
review some its uses.
An infrared thermal imaging camera can produce viewable images of invisible
infrared energy. Infrared energy is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which
we perceive as heat, so it is invisible to the naked eye. Some level of thermal
energy is emitted from all people, objects, and material. Infrared technology
can be used to capture this energy and convert it into an image that is visible
to the human eye.
Because thermal imaging cameras do not technically have to see the object in
order to capture an image of it, they are perfect for use in dark and adverse
weather conditions. Thermal imaging can successfully penetrate such environments
as smoke, dense fog, snow, extreme darkness, and heavy rain. Bright lights also
will not negatively affect the quality of the image generated by a FLIR camera
device, even if light is shown directly into the camera itself.
There are numerous uses for FLIR cameras, one of the most common being
military applications. There are however, several other legitimate uses for this
technology. We will look at some of the more common ones below.
- Used for enhancing satellite imaging -- The
National Security Agency (NSA)
utilizes the infrared FLIR technology in satellite devices, to monitor activity
in foreign countries. These same infrared equipped satellites are also used to
monitor storm activity and environmental patterns. The military also has access
to this technology to review potential targets and to survey perimeter security.
- Used for airborne surveillance -- The
FBI and the military utilize FLIR technology to equip their
spy planes. These are in turn used to monitor suspected terrorist or military
targets, as well monitor other suspicious activity. Local law enforcement
agencies also often utilize this technology to search for criminal suspects,
missing persons, and to survey industrial accidents or automobile crashes. As
already mentioned, FLIR technology is perfect for scanning over the horizon, so
pilots often use thermal imaging devices to help direct their planes at night or
through thick fog.
- Nighttime video surveillance -- Since thermal imaging technology can
be used to capture images in total darkness, it is also a good solution for
nighttime video surveillance.
As you can see, there is a wide array of practical uses for this remarkable
technology. Thermal imaging technology has made a significant impact toward
improving security both personal, nationally, and even internationally. It is
not every day you come across a technology that is utilized for such a broad
spectrum of applications.