What is Thermal Imaging Used For?

What is thermal imaging used for? Thermal imaging is used as a method of detecting different objects through the use of emitted infrared radiation and thermal energy from the certain object or simply its temperature. This way the device gathers information about the object and creates a picture of that said object even in low-to-no visibility environments.

This is the short and main answer to the question what thermal imaging used for? there is a lot more to it than just this short answer. Keep on reading further to completely understand the thermal imaging device and its usage.

First and foremost, how does Thermal Imaging work?

Thermal imaging is based upon the principle of infrared energy and waves or simply temperature. Temperature is emitted from all objects, living or non-living. The energy from an object is also referred as a ‘’heat signature’’. Thermal Imaging are devices with a specific heat-sensors that have the ability to gather enough information to deliver to the user and pick up minute differences in the temperature changes in the objects that are in the device’s Field of view.

Originally, Thermal Imaging was developed for purely a military use during the Korean War. Thermal Imaging cameras have since migrated into other different fields while finding more and more uses. For example, back then firefighters used to see through smoke, find people and even localize the hottest spots in a fire. Law enforcement even to this day use this technology to control certain surveillance operations, locate and even apprehend fleeing criminals or suspects, investigate different crime scenes for things that are invisible to the naked eye and conduct search-and-rescue operations with thermal imaging devices.

Another example for the use of thermal imaging since its beginning is for technicians that work with extremely high voltage. They use this device to locate overheating parts of electrical circuits with the purpose of eliminating the possibility for explosions or threats where there is faulty electrical insulation.

Example of thermal image on a electrical circuit

Building construction engineers can use the thermal imaging device to locate imbalanced temperatures and even temperature ‘’leaks’’ and this way strive for improving the efficacy of heating or cooling for a certain construction or even room.

Physiological activities such as for a quick example fever in people or other warm-blooded animals can also be looked into using a thermal imaging device. Let us take a look at the different industries at which the thermal imaging devices have found their way into and are getting more and more attention as each day passes.

Applications of Thermal Imaging

Since its beginner purpose of a combat device, the usage of the thermal imaging device has spread itself into many different purposes. Let’s take a look at the different categories at which the thermal imaging devices are implemented into.

Thermal Imaging in Working Industry

The working industry has got to be the biggest industry that implements the use of thermal imaging devices. Mainly, the thermal imaging devices are actually used to successfully find weak spots in different buildings or even constructions as well as electrical circuits. Some technicians that work with high voltage implement a thermal imaging device into their work to be able to locate weak and faulty spots of an electrical circuit.

Those weaknesses are invisible to the naked eye but are visible through the sight of a thermal imaging device. Electricians this way are able to spot weaker parts of some electrical circuits where there is not enough temperature balance and there are present points of possible overheating. With the thermal imaging device, they are able to spot those weaknesses and give them additional attention before it is too late.

In the same principle, some plumbing companies actually supply their plumbers with additional thermal imaging devices for houses that have a more complex water pipe system.

Example of Thermal Imaging for Underfloor heating

A complex pipe system makes possible problems or even rusty pipes to be invisible to the naked eye. Plumbers use thermal imaging devices in the same sense as the electricians – they use the devices to spot weak spots in the piping system where there can be a possible leakage, a weak pipe or just a completely rusty one. With the thermal imaging device, they can react almost instantly and this way prevent possible leakage which can lead to flooding or pipe system damage.

Thermal Imaging in Biological industry

At first this category might seem weird, but it definitely makes sense when you think about it. Thermal imaging devices are actually widely used by civilians to spot animal intruders into their houses for example. Using thermal imaging devices makes it possible for you to find out if there are mice or other critters and even insects in your house and then further plan on removing them before there can be any significant damage.

Without a thermal imaging device, finding the source of where the critters or insects are coming from would be pretty hard, If not even impossible. After we talk about animals, lets mention that the thermal imaging devices play a huge role in the overall health of humans and warm-blooded animals too. Doctors have started using thermal imaging devices to detect higher than normal fevers and other different body-temperature anomalies in humans as well as animals.

The thermal imaging device usage with this principle actually skyrocketed when there was a disease outbreak. The government started making airport checkups with different thermal imaging devices to be able to spot out different temperature anomalies and prevent dangerous diseases from spreading.

Thermal Imaging in Surveillance and Researching Industry

Police and law enforcement where actually one of the first industries that started implementing thermal imaging devices into their day-to-day work. Today, a lot of police officer are equipped with a thermal imaging device, additional to their other equipment. It makes their job of locating different objects much easier compared to a naked eye.

Thermal imaging devices come in handy when trying to locate different suspects especially in the night time as well as further investigations on certain crime scenes where there isn’t enough proof. Police officers use thermal imaging devices into search and rescue missions too. If the person they are looking for is unconscious for example and they are searching for him through the nighttime, thermal imaging devices play a big role as the device will still be able to detect the body temperature of the searched person.

This technique will help policemen find the person much faster and much more effective compared to a traditional way of only using flashlights. With the same principle as a technique of searching, firefighters actually implement thermal imaging devices into their work too. They use those devices to possible spot out people, that may be trapped inside a burning house and are most likely unconscious as well as being able to spot out the hottest point in the fire and make a further plan on how to take out the fire most effectively and for the quickest time.

Thermal Imaging in Driving and Navigational Industry

Car manufacturers actually started adding thermal imaging as well as night vision devices into cars for additional security when going on longer night time trips. Those devices are able to detect objects living or nonliving for less than a second from more than a kilometer away, which can be a possible threat on the road if you are moving faster than normal and your reaction time is greatly reduced. Sea travelling is where thermal imaging devices are getting more and more attention too.

With a thermal imaging device, the ship’s crew members can navigate themselves through sea much easier and have a clear vision on what is going on around them. They are able to spot out different objects like vessels, people, other ships and even smaller boats or other obstructions when they are out in the sea and there is almost no ambient light from stars or the moon, and this way prevent possible disasters.

Personally using Thermal Imaging

In the USA, more and more people are starting to show great interest in thermal imaging devices. Even though they can be pricey for the average user’s budget, those devices can actually help you even save money. How exactly? Thermal imaging devices can be used to spot out different possible problems or faulty systems before they even occur.

And if you can have the ability to spot out the problems before they have gotten worse, you can react to those problems and start working on them on time before they worsen up and cost you a lot more compared to if you ‘’catch’’ them on time using a thermal imaging device. Basically, preventing those possible problems before they even occur using a thermal imaging device is actually a smart and strategic financial saving plan.

Thermal imaging devices although, do not have to only be for serious use. Fun is one of the biggest strong points in the thermal imaging devices. There are so much different ways of using your thermal imaging device with only one thing in mind – entertainment. You can freely implement this device into many of your different hobbies like nighttime hiking, stargazing or even nighttime hunting.

You might also find this article interesting: https://nightvisioninsider.com/25-myths-about-thermal-technology


With all that being said, thermal imaging cameras have found their way into almost any category or sphere from the beginning of their creation as a pure military combat device into a wide variety of category uses such as making your outdoor hobbies even more interesting all the way to different researches and navigation, with the purpose of saving money or even preventing possible disease spreads and monitoring the condition that your own house is in.

Related questions

  1. What is a thermal imaging camera used for? – A thermal imaging camera is a specific type of a thermographic camera that is very widely used in the sphere of firefighting. It is used by rendering all infrared radiations as visible light. Those such cameras allow for firefighters to see through different areas with think smoke, darkness and even heat-permeable barriers as well as finding out the hottest point of the fire and think of a further strategy to put it out.
  2. Do police use thermal imaging cameras? – Thermal imaging cameras is a very important use in the government and goes much beyond police surveillance. Thermal imaging cameras pick up the beat that is emitted from every single living or nonliving object and this way giving the police the possibility to monitor different individuals when conditions would prevent traditional cameras from gathering any possible images that could be further used. This is useful for police usage as almost every single object gives some, if minimal, infrared radiation and emitted infrared wavelengths.

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