New technologies seem to be developed at a borderline alarming pace but many of them remain out of reach of anyone but the governments and militaries of the world until popular applications are found and mass production begins. Thermal imaging is one such example.
Developed for military use as early as 1958 in order to be able to see targets in the darkness or across the smoke of a battlefield. The first commercially available thermal camera was developed for powerline inspections in 1965 and remained in limited usage until 1997. This is when FLIR (the company that had developed the original technology under the name of AGA) brought out the first thermal cameras that didn’t require a liquid coolant (originally the sensor required cooling via liquid nitrogen, not a practical solution for the ‘home user’).
This new iteration of the technology had no moving parts, making it easier to mass produce and so lowering the price and finally putting the technology within the reach of the business professional.
Industry was relatively quick to tap into the potential of the thermal image to provide information about electrical equipment and power lines and new uses are being established as time passes. The thermal image is proving to be a powerful tool especially when combined with the agility of the drone and its ability to reach inaccessible areas to provide a bird’s eye view.