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How Infrared Cameras Work

Posted by Provisual on 10/30/2014 to News

To the average person, infrared camera technology must seem something akin to magic. However, once you have an understanding of what infrared is and how cameras and scopes can see it, you’ll be wondering why you are only just now thinking about getting an infrared security camera system.

What is Infrared

Infrared waves are a radiant energy that is all around us. However, it happens to be one of the wavelengths that human eyes cannot see. In fact, human eyes can only see a small fraction, called the visible spectrum, of the wavelengths that are out there. There are plenty of animals, such as birds and insects, that see different wavelengths than we do so that they, in the case of certain birds and insects, can navigate a plant-filled world.  

That said, humans can feel radiant energy since it is heat-based, which is why the hotter parts of an infrared image is more yellow and white than are the cooler parts of the image, which may be orange, red, and purple.    

Infrared Detecting Technology

Infrared waves were discovered the same way we experience them today each and every day, by touch. The astronomer William Herschel supposed that some force must be transporting heat from one area of a space to another and used a thermometer to figure that invisible waves were doing so in 1800.

Nowadays, infrared technology lets us actually see how cold or hot buildings, vehicles, people and animals, and environments are. Commonly referred to as night vision, IR cameras and other devices give mankind the power to see in the dark by converting ambient light photons into electrons that are then changed into light we can see.

Now, this talk of photons and the converting of them into electrons and then into visible light may sound awfully complicated. However, the truth these days is that infrared technology is so commonplace that there are even spy wristwatches featuring infrared cameras costing around $130. This is a technology that is readily accessible by all.