The Future of Infrared (IR) Technologies

The Future of Infrared (IR) Technologies

As technology advances, accuracy continues to improve, and cores continue to become much smaller. Cooled and uncooled systems become more affordable as well.

Uncooled systems are becoming more widely used among many innovative applications.

Most people know that infrared technology is used in science, research, laboratory, medical, surveillance and defense applications, and has been since its discovery. Commercially, the use of infrared is increasing too. I had the pleasure of working for one of the Optics greats, Jenoptik, part of Carl Zeiss. I oversaw the Advanced Infrared Sensors division, and was responsible for at the time, the only hand-held, HD, uncooled, 1024×768, fully-radiometric, metrology grade camera on the market. Today, they have even advanced this product and technology.

I saw every type of innovative application under the sun. Some applications included measuring the temperature of a person’s tear ducts to determine if they are ill. This application can be used in airports globally to eliminate the spreading of illness and disease. Another application I enjoyed was aerial surveying. There were many different reasons for infrared aerial surveying. One interesting use is to monitor city lights at night in an effort to reduce power use, become more efficient, and measure how much power is used by a targeted area, city or zip code.

Another fun application was in entertainment. I constantly partnered with BBC and Discovery Channel on projects. You may notice infrared aerial clips of animals in some of your favorite programs.

One of my favorite applications was with SpaceX. SpaceX found use of radiometric data in the recovery process, and my solution at the time was the best way to collect this radiometric data with full HD and high frame-rate capabilities. You can check out some of this footage on one of our YouTube channels.

In the future, we will see applications more widely used among the public. With the innovation of virtual reality, and augmented reality, many gaming, and entertainment companies are finding ways to implement infrared. Infrared is innovating and evolving in research, science, aviation, aerospace, defense, development, and surveillance too. Many more uncooled solutions are available now, with user-experience in mind. The way the data is collected and shared has become a lot easier over time. In addition, SWIR, MWIR, and LWIR is advancing greatly, and where once maybe MWIR or LWIR was cumbersome to use, with poor results, may now be a great solution. Technology is advancing every day.

If you know of new research and development, or interesting and innovative applications, comment and share your stories below.