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Thermal surveillance cameras evolution drives adoption

In the past, thermal imaging surveillance cameras were primarily used in facilities, such as military buildings and critical infrastructure sites, that needed a high level of security. During the past several years, advances in both thermal imaging and video surveillance technologies have made it so these solutions can be used at less restrictive locations, including businesses in the private sector.

These changes have introduced a drop in price for thermal surveillance cameras without limiting capabilities. As a result, a wider range of organizations are now adopting the technology, according to a report by SecurityInfoWatch.

“Thermal imaging technology now is starting to approach the prices of megapixel cameras,” said John Romanowich, CEO of SightLogix, according to the news source. “So, they’re really being very rapidly adopted and we’re seeing tremendous growth at this time. Thermal is going to be the new megapixel in terms of rapid market growth.”

There are multiple reasons why adoption of thermal imaging is on the rise, but the most significant is simply an increase in the volume of available offerings, the news source said. Although the high prices often limited the technology’s use to larger facilities in the past, the abundance of solutions has forced manufacturers to drop their prices to remain competitive.

Advances in surveillance capabilities have also made the cameras more appropriate for a wider range of industries, SecurityInfoWatch noted.

Picture quality is on the rise
Similar to the overall video surveillance industry, thermal imaging cameras are improving their ability to capture high-quality footage. In the past, thermal devices were subjected to more environmental factors, such as daylight, and were more likely to develop low-quality picture, the news source said.

Traditional surveillance camera vendors are racing to embrace high-definition and megapixels. This was echoed in a separate report by IMS Research, noting that manufacturers will refocus on image quality in 2012, as more than 70 percent of camera shipments will be megapixel resolution in 2015. Thermal imaging surveillance cameras are following suit.

“Part of it is because of several things. One is that the imagers are getting more sensitive but the image processing is what’s increasing the quality of the image,” Romanowich said, according to SecurityInfoWatch.

By improving the processing components inside the cameras, thermal imaging devices will be used in a wider range of locations, as traditional limitations will no longer be a problem, the news source said.

Thermal makes the move to IP
As the overall security industry makes the move away from analog devices toward IP products, thermal imaging surveillance cameras will not be left behind. This is most likely because there is a growing demand for thermal devices that have similar functionality and features to traditional video solutions, SecurityInfoWatch noted.

“I would say there is a desire to have thermal cameras with the features and user-friendliness of traditional cameras,” said Randall Foster, president and CEO of Vumii, according to SecurityInfoWatch.

As more vendors enter the market and increase the abundance of thermal surveillance cameras, however, manufacturers need to do a better job educating users on the pros and cons of the technology, as there is still a major knowledge gap, Foster told the news source.

As more decision-makers understand the benefits of using thermal devices, adoption rates of the technology are sure to rise. A study by Yole Developpement echoed this sentiment, revealing that the commercial segment of the thermal imaging market will exceed 50 percent by 2017, while the military sector will drop to only 10 percent.

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