A hot new trend in video surveillance

CCTV Handbook 2011 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Thermal cameras advance surveillance capabilities in all light conditions.

All network cameras have a basic physical limitation: they need light to work. At least up to now.

Sure, some network cameras have night and day functionality that allows them to operate in very poor lighting conditions, down to fractions of a lux. And of course, if natural light is not available it can be substituted by electrical light, either visible to the human eye or infrared. But in some instances these solutions have serious drawbacks – they can be expensive and inefficient, and illumination creates shadows where an intruder can hide, to mention a few.

The thermal network camera is a perfect complement to any professional IP surveillance system; it can be seamlessly combined with existing equipment, and it is possible to secure an area or a perimeter that lies in complete darkness.

Thermal technology enters the mainstream

Images, as they are perceived by the human eye, can be described as light reflected by different objects. No light means no reflection and thus the eye is blind under such circumstances. Thermal images on the other hand, are not dependent on visible light. Instead, images are created by operating in the infrared spectrum. It works perfectly well even in total darkness since the ambient light level does not matter.

What makes this possible is the fact that all objects – organic or inorganic – emit a certain amount of infrared radiation as a function of their temperature. Humans cannot see this, but we can sense it, for example, when we approach a campfire or enter a sauna. The greater the temperature difference in a scene, the clearer the thermal images will be.

Thermal imaging is nothing new. But until recently, costs have usually been prohibitive, making practical applications outside the military rare. This has started to change as new sensors, new materials and other improvements are driving the volumes and making prices more reasonable. Thermal cameras can now be found in various lines of business such as the aircraft industry, shipping industry, and security and surveillance. The technology is also used in public services like fire fighting and law enforcement. Lately it has even appeared in consumer products, albeit often expensive ones like luxury cars.

Challenges posed by difficult conditions…

Thermal cameras do not only perform well in total darkness, they also perform well under difficult climatic circumstances such as haze, dust, rain, snow and smoke. All the same, there are physical limitations to the performance of thermal cameras.

Water droplets or small dust particles in the air will naturally hinder the transmittance of thermal radiation from a single object, making it harder to detect from a great distance. Consequently, haze, snow and rain will hamper camera performance. Water limits thermal radiation and the moisture in the air evens out temperature differences between different objects in the picture. Therefore, a thermal camera will produce better and clearer images during winter with clear skies and good weather conditions than under comparable atmospheric conditions during summer when humidity is usually higher.

But even with these limitations considered, when it comes to detection, thermal cameras are superior to conventional cameras under a wide range of difficult weather conditions.

…And legal issues

A number of products and technologies that can be used both for military purposes and in commercial applications are called dual-use goods. Exports of such items are regulated in the international Wassenaar Arrangement from 1996, which aims to promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms as well as dual-use goods and technologies.

Not surprisingly, thermal imaging technologies, which often have been originally developed for military use, fall under this category. Thermal sensors may therefore only be freely exported if the maximum frame rate is 9 fps or below. Most cameras for surveillance purposes fall under this category. Cameras with a maximum of 111 000 pixels and a frame rate of up to 60 fps can be sold in the US, the EU, and a handful of other friendly nations, on the condition that the buyer is registered and can be traced.

Regardless of these restrictions, resolutions are generally much lower for thermal cameras than for conventional network cameras. This is primarily due to the more expensive sensor technology involved in thermal imaging. Lower frame rate is less of a problem in most surveillance applications since thermal cameras are first and foremost used for detection and not for identification.

Real world benefits

With thermal imaging becoming relatively cheaper and an integral part of IP surveillance systems, a whole range of uses becomes both possible and economically viable. Thermal cameras can be an excellent complement in many situations where conventional cameras are inadequate or insufficient.

They are, of course, unparalleled in a situation of total darkness. They can also be an option in areas that are very difficult to illuminate effectively, for example a sea front, a harbour, or any other vast expanse of open water. Similarly, artificial light not only runs the risk of revealing where the cameras are placed, enabling parties to avoid or vandalise them, but can also create projected shadows in which an intruder can avoid detection.

Furthermore, spotlights can blind as well as illuminate. Therefore, cameras that do not rely on light can be the preferred solution in many different traffic situations, whether it is in railway tunnels, on airstrips or on regular streets. Thermal cameras, on the other hand, cannot be blinded by bright lights or laser beams.

Overall, thermal network cameras perfectly complement and complete a network video system, making sure that objects, people, and incidents are detected 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Axis’s new AXIS Q1921 and AXIS Q1921-E thermal network cameras are aimed at cost efficient 24/7 area or perimeter surveillance of all security applications such as roads, tunnels and airports. The enhanced resolution and the large variety of lens alternatives ensure improved image quality and detection range. The new cameras integrate perfectly with any network video system, delivering all the benefits that customers have learned to expect from network cameras.

AXIS Q1921 is designed for indoor surveillance, while AXIS Q1921-E is an IP66-rated, outdoor-ready camera, with four available lens alternatives. In addition, they support key IP-Surveillance features such as H.264 and Motion JPEG, audio, local storage and Power over Ethernet. Intelligent video is a key component of any thermal camera, and AXIS Q1921/-E provide tampering alarm, motion detection, and support for AXIS Camera Application Platform.

Both cameras support the ONVIF specification for interoperability of network video products.



Credit(s)




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Drones and cybersecurity?
October 2019 , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Hacker drones can eavesdrop electronically on conversations, can perform network attacks, or can create fake wireless access points.

Read more...
New LPR camera from Axis
October 2019, Axis Communications SA , Products
Dedicated licence plate camera for capturing clear images and easy integration with third-party software.

Read more...
Body-worn cameras transforming security
October 2019 , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Security Services & Risk Management
Police Service Northern Ireland now has over 7 000 officers using 2 500 cameras covering approximately 173 000 incidents each year.

Read more...
Camera Selection Guide 2019
CCTV Handbook 2019 , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
The Camera Selection Guide 2019 includes a range of IP, analogue, thermal and speciality cameras aimed at a broad range of surveillance functions.

Read more...
Intelligent analytics and the brains to match
September 2019, Bosch Building Technologies , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
What if the brains behind our security cameras could be trained to improve their cognitive ability to pay attention, learn, and problem-solve according to specific rules and situations?

Read more...
AI-powered autonomous Drone-in-a-Box
September 2019 , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
Organisations in the mining, energy and industrial, oil and gas, ports and terminals sectors can optimise security and business operations, whilst reducing risks and operational costs

Read more...
Cybersecurity for video surveillance systems
September 2019 , Cyber Security, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Video surveillance systems are increasingly accessible over any IP network, which has led to the rise of potential cyberattack.

Read more...
A platform approach to innovation and value
CCTV Handbook 2019, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions, IT infrastructure
Moving to the platform model of doing business holds tremendous advantages for end users and smaller developers, but also for the whole technology supply chain.

Read more...
Back to manufacturer uniformity?
CCTV Handbook 2019, Dallmeier Electronic Southern Africa , CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Decision makers often have to choose between an all-inclusive, complete solution from one manufacturer and the products and services of several different providers.

Read more...
Open does not always mean easy integration
CCTV Handbook 2019, VERACITECH, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions
Customers who opt for best-of-breed solutions will have to rely on their integrators to develop customised integrated solutions for them.

Read more...