Thermal imaging cameras are gaining in popularity in Africa, because of their low costs. The number of usage applications for these devices is also going up.
Thermal cameras record images of the infra-red radiation (heat) being emitted by the skin to determine threats. The image produced by these cameras consists of a range of colours, with hotter areas represented in red, cooler areas appearing in blue and lukewarm areas in orange or yellow for instance.
These cameras have a number of advantages over conventional CCTV security cameras including being able to detect threats in extremely low light (or even complete darkness), and during unfavourable weather conditions like heavy fog, dust, excessive glare from the sun, or thick vegetation in the area being surveyed. In addition, thermal cameras provide a much clearer image compared to conventional imaging solutions and have a considerably longer threat detection range when compared to lower resolution surveillance cameras that make use of conventional optics.
The question is can thermal cameras be used to solve many of the issues we have? It seems they could come in handy when facing things like Ebola and poaching.
â€œDespite an entry-level thermal imaging camera costing in the region of KSh. 249,000, the overall return on investment comes across in the total cost of a companyâ€™s security solutions. This, as low cost thermal cameras can cover long distances of between 300 and 400 meters, whereas a company would need up to eight conventional surveillance cameras to cover the same area at an inferior image quality with devices that are more susceptible to a range of environmental factors and conditions,â€ says Roy Alves, Regional Business Development Manager for Axis Communications.
Game rangers are using thermal imaging camera solutions to assist them in their attempts to catch rhino poachers.
A more pertinent usage case within Africa involves using thermal camera solutions to detect fevers within airport passengers for instance, which might be an indication that the person is infected with Ebola.
â€œSince thermal cameras look at peopleâ€™s heat signatures, they are able to detect whether someone has a fever. This can be used to alert the authorities to someone who may have been infected with the Ebola virus at crucial junctures like airports, bus stations, and border crossings,â€ concludes Alves.
Thermal imaging can also be used as a safer method for screening patients for breast cancer instead of less comfortable methods that expose patients to radiation such as mammography.