FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) -Thermal Infrared Technology for Night Vision and Temperature Monitoring
The term FLIR, which stands for “Forward Looking Infrared”, refers to the technology used to create an infrared image of a scene without having to “scan” the scene with a moving sensor, which is what was previously required. It is also the name of the largest manufacturer of thermal imaging cameras (FLIR Systems). Since the 1950s there are now many manufacturers of thermal infrared cameras besides FLIR. Using the term FLIR in reference to all thermal cameras is no longer accurate unless referring to a FLIR branded camera.
In order to “see” radiated heat, special lenses and sensors are needed to focus and detect electromagnetic radiation in the MWIR (mid‑wave infrared) and LWIR (long‑wave infrared) ranges.
Thermal infrared imaging sensors detect thermal energy via special FPAs (Focal Plane Arrays). These FPA's can be divided into two types, cooled and uncooled detectors. Cooled detectors exist to maximize detection performance. Since we’re detecting radiated heat, any heat from the camera components themselves makes it harder to see the image of the scene. Both our high-definition MCT (Mercury Cadmium Telluride or HgCdTe) sensors and our Indium Animonide (InSb) sensors incorporate a cryogenic cooling system to reduce the “noise” from the heat of the internal camera components and the sensor itself. This allows for detection of thermal energy with an accuracy as fine as 0.025°C.
Uncooled detectors are also available which are more affordable and compact due to the lack of a cryogenic cooler. We use vanadium oxide (VOx) detectors in our uncooled cameras and combine them with wide aperture lenses to maximize their performance (see below).
LWIR (Long Wave Infrared Cameras) are the most common type of FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) thermal infrared surveillance cameras as (LWIR) operates on 7 to 14 microns (7,000nm–14,000nm) in wavelength where terrestrial temperature targets emit most of their infrared energy and unlike cooled thermal cameras require no coolers or maintenance. Infiniti optics LWIR cameras use the latest 12μm LWIR uncooled thermal sensors with resolutions of 384×288 up to 1280×1024 HD.
Uncooled LWIR thermal imaging is more affordable than cooled MWIR thermal imaging, as the sensors have no moving parts eliminating the need for regular maintenance. Infiniti’s LWIR cameras have a reputation for industry leading performance as we pair our uncooled sensors with large aperture precision engineers GE lenses, allowing more thermal energy to reach the sensor, which than further optimizes the image by applying out DICE dynamic image contrast enhancement to provide high contrast crisp images for long range detection recognition and identification.
Cooled thermal Imaging cameras are usually sold as MWIR Mid-wave Infrared imaging, as the name suggest use an integrated cryogenic cooler, which chills the thermal image core to temperatures as low as -196°C (-321°F) to increase the sensitivity and accuracy of the thermal image. Uncooled cameras are based on VoX infrared sensor and are often uncooled and operated on LWIR long wave infrared wavelength. Cooled Thermal cameras see longer range than uncooled cameras as their greater sensitivity allows for bigger less efficient lens than LWIR cameras. Infiniti's0~1400mm cooled thermal cameras allow for up 55km for vehicle detection based on DRI military standards making them the best choice for long range night vision but come at a higher cost than standard uncooled LWIR cameras. Infiniti offers both MWIR Cooled and LWIR Uncooled infrared modules in 640x512 1024x720 1280x1024, 1920x1080up to 5MP. We sell as open frame modules (lens and sensor attached) or as complete integrated PTZ cameras with Visible and SWIR sensors for ultra long-range imaging and threat detection even in complete darkness.
One drawback is MWIR cooled thermal cameras are higher cost than standard uncooled LWIR cameras. Infiniti offers both MWIR Cooled and LWIR Uncooled infrared modules in 640x512 1024x720 1280x1024, 1920x1080up to 5MP. We sell as open frame modules (lens and sensor attached) or as complete integrated PTZ cameras with Visible and SWIR sensors for ultra long-range imaging and threat detection even in complete darkness.
Infiniti optics custom builds all types of EO/IR solutions and can offer them as open frame modules (lens and sensor attached) or as complete integrated PTZ cameras with Visible and SWIR sensors for ultra long-range imaging required by a host of military and defense applications.
For more information about thermal infrared imaging for night vision and surveillance see our Thermal Imaging Explained page.