The technique of capturing and converting invisible infrared images into visible images is called infrared imaging. Visible light is easily detected by the human eye, but to see infrared light it is important to have infrared cameras and imagers. These devices possess special sensors that operate without the need of visible light. The radiations in the infrared imaging technique are emitted by the targeted objects or are reflected radiations. The imaging devices have infrared illuminator lasers with LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for the purpose of illumination. The infrared radiations emitted by warm objects are detected by thermal infrared imagers directing them to infrared sensor array. These sensor arrays convert infrared signals into electric signals which are then converted into an image.
The distinguishing property of infrared light is that it can penetrate those areas which visible light cannot. Initially developed by the military to produce binoculars, gun lights and night vision cameras, infrared imaging devices are now also used by various civilian agencies. The infrared imaging market has a wide variety of uses and is segmented on the basis of applications in various fields. The infrared imaging technology is used in the field of military and defense for detecting minute details over long distances. It allows aerial vehicles to fly at night time while maintaining near day visibility.
In the field of industrial applications, infrared imaging devices are used to monitor temperatures in steel manufacturing processes. In medical treatments, infrared imaging technology is used to detect and quantify small fiber dysfunctions with the help of thermal imaging cameras. Other applications include saving people caught in fire, help wildlife researchers to study warm blooded animals and assist archaeologists to examine artifacts and survey various archeological sites. Rapid development of high speed infrared cameras with advanced features for measuring thermal performances and evaluating the relative severity of heat is a driver that contributes to the growth of infrared imaging market.
Since the applications and innovations of the infrared imaging are on rise, the costs of older applications tend to decrease rapidly which again triggers the use of infrared imaging devices. Another driver that contributes to the growth of infrared imaging market is the continuous development of microbolometer which is used as a detector in thermal cameras. Infrared radiations when strike the detector material changes its electrical resistance.
This change in resistance is measured and processed into temperatures that are used to create an image. However, the availability of competing technologies like thermal imaging, which is used in military applications where stealth is of utmost importance, acts as a barrier in the growth of this market. Another constraint is the price factor of infrared detectors which limits their use in many sectors. Since infrared detectors are based on the variations in temperatures, they are incapable of detecting differences in objects that have a very similar range of temperatures leading to inaccuracy in results. Companies such as Axis Communications AB, FLIR Systems, Fluke Corporation and Samsung Techwin are some of the major key players in the line of infrared imaging market.