Thermal Imaging: An Innovative Technology Driving Our Everyday Uses
Thermal imaging has long been used in high-tech applications in defense, security, and industry. Today, the use of thermal imaging in everyday applications is becoming more and more common. Its use in healthcare is also expanding, and some tech consumers are even using it themselves!
Here are some examples of innovations using thermal imaging to improve our everyday lives.
Medical and Veterinary Applications
Early Detection of Breast Cancer
In countries such as France, thermal imaging cameras are beginning to be used as an alternative to X-rays in mammography. One of the main criticisms of using mammograms to screen for breast cancer is exposure to dangerous X-rays.
Infrared thermography is painless and less invasive than mammography. It detects temperature differences across the surface of the body. For breast cancer screening, the technology is called DITI (Digital Infrared Thermography).
Thermal imaging cameras are used to generate thermal images showing "hot" areas. Doctors can compare the images of each breast. With breast cancer, blood vessels and inflammation around the tumor appear red.
For the technique to be effective, certain precautions must be taken before the exam: no hot showers, shaving, deodorant, coffee, or alcohol. The temperature of the examination room must also be controlled (19℃ to 23℃).
This technique is very effective. The results can be compared to the patient's mammogram. According to some studies, DITI:
- Detects 90% of cancers (80% with mammograms)
- Produces 10% false positives (lesions that turn out not to be cancerous) compared to 25% for X-ray imaging
Thermography can help diagnose cancer more effectively, and it can be helpful in other areas as well!
Preventive Care for Diabetics
Diabetic foot syndrome covers a variety of foot conditions, including infections. Temperature is a key indicator of diabetic foot disease. Thermal imaging is great for detecting temperature changes that can indicate foot problems in diabetics.
Measuring the temperature of the arch of the foot using infrared technology can detect small temperature differences that often indicate acute lesions. This is especially useful for patients who do not exhibit inflammatory symptoms, such as fever, that would alert them to a problem.
Prevention is critical to managing diabetes. Thermography is an effective tool for the early diagnosis of tissue lesions, allowing for optimal care.
Monitoring Patients with Respiratory Diseases
A team of researchers in London has developed software that uses a thermal camera connected to a smartphone to monitor a person's breathing rate. This type of mobile thermal imaging can be used to monitor elderly patients who live alone, people with sleep apnea, or infants who are at risk for SIDS.
While traditional cameras can be used to monitor respiration, they don't work well in low-light conditions and can raise privacy concerns when used to monitor care in settings such as nursing homes. The advantage of thermal imaging cameras is the ability to detect breathing at night without identifying individuals.
As in human medicine, thermal imaging is very useful in veterinary medicine, and its use is increasing. First, thermal imaging is non-invasive. Complex examinations that some animals do not tolerate well can be accomplished using thermography. Animals are less stressed and more receptive, making thermal imaging ideal for monitoring pregnancy in zoo wildlife.
Thermal imaging can also detect injuries or infections at a very early stage. Small changes in temperature can be identified by comparing the sides of the animal, showing the veterinarian where they need to investigate further. For horse breeders, thermal imaging can detect signs of inflammation early on, allowing horses to rest before they become injured.
Thermal imaging can also be used to monitor healing. Again, the veterinarian can compare thermal images from each side of the animal; when the images are symmetrical, the animal is better!
Finally, thermal imaging is less expensive than other tests. The equipment used is simple and getting cheaper.
Health Monitoring in Public Places
Thermal imaging can be a very effective tool for monitoring the health of public spaces such as airports. If a risk of an epidemic is determined, people entering the area must be screened for possible carriers of the disease. During crises such as Ebola and bird flu outbreaks, thermal cameras allow for continuous, real-time monitoring of queues and crowds, and detect temperature changes (fever) that may indicate disease carriers - all without exposure to travel.
Night Driving Assistance
Driving at night or in bad weather can be dangerous and scary, especially in rural areas where roads are often unlit. Automakers are currently developing vehicles with integrated night-time driving assistance systems that utilize thermal cameras.
The advantage of thermal imaging cameras is their ability to "see" at night, in heavy rain, fog, and snow, producing a clear thermal video signal. Drivers get a safer and more comfortable driving experience when visibility is poor!
Mobile Phone Thermal Vision
Mobile phones with integrated thermal cameras are becoming more common. These cameras can be used for a variety of purposes, including monitoring the breathing of high-risk individuals, night photography, and detecting the presence of people when out at night.
The key takeaway here is that thermal imaging is becoming more common and new uses for the technology are emerging.
Thermal imaging devices are getting smaller and cheaper - helping them find their way into many of the tools we use every day. Thermal imaging is a non-intrusive and unobtrusive technology, and it is very accurate. And, major advances and improvements are yet to come, especially in areas like health and medical monitoring.
If you would like to learn more about innovations utilizing thermal imaging technology, or if you would like to purchase infrared thermal imaging equipment, please contact us.
Javol is a professional custom infrared thermal imaging equipment manufacturer. Relying on advanced compound semiconductor materials, multi-spectral, high-sensitivity photoelectric sensor chips, with deep learning AI algorithm as the engine, it integrates micro-human night vision technology, infrared thermal imaging technology, short-wave infrared Technology, multi-spectral fusion technology, advanced imaging products and system solutions designed, developed and manufactured by our company are widely used in machine vision, automatic driving, drone load, high-end manufacturing and medical diagnosis and other application fields.