Innovating with Infrared
While our primary passion at IRT Surveys is helping our clients approach the future with confidence, it’s fair to say we also love the very technology that allows us to do just that.
In the 213 years since William Herschel discovered a form of radiation beyond red light, people have been using infrared for truly remarkable feats in areas as diverse as healthcare, law enforcement and, of course, surveying.
Indeed, even when it’s not within our own field, it always excites us to see innovative uses of a technology that has done so much for the IRT Surveys story. With this in mind, we identify some of our favourite recent examples that highlight the far-reaching power of thermal imaging across a range of industries.
For the past year, Ford has been innovating with thermal imaging with the purpose of identify and eliminating air leakage from vehicle cabins. This aims to achieve more effective soundproofing than ever before for the company’s new models and significantly minimise dust intrusion and water leaks. Much like the surveying of a house, thermal imaging offers a far quicker alternative to traditional methods for this process. Previously, Ford would fill the vehicle with smoke in order to see where air was leaking and even listen with medical stethoscopes to identify regions of escaping air.
When the wolf population in the famous Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA, started to suffer from sarcoptic mange, scientists had great difficulty determining just how long the affected wolves had to live. Sarcoptic mange is a skin disease that causes canines to lose their hair and, as a result, calories as the body tries to keep itself warm with holes in its shaggy coat. Unfortunately, an inability to replace these calories causes suffering animals to die. As a result, scientists started using infrared camera to identify exactly how much heat was escaping through bald patches and in turn how many calories the mangy canines were losing relative to healthy wolves. Once again, this use highlights the benefits of thermal imaging’s non-invasive approach as alternatives would include things like traps, radio collars and injections. The innovation now allows scientists to establish the extent of a problem and predict with confidence how long a sick animal has to live.
For the recent National Geographic series “America the Wild”, footage was captured using infrared thermographic cameras to record the behaviour of some of the world’s most elusive wildlife in darkness. The show featured breathtaking shots of natural animal behaviour, including mountain lions and grizzly bears, and the innovative approach helped it win the Predator Award at the 2013 IMMY awards in San Diego.
And naturally, from our perspective, no article about innovative uses of thermal imaging is complete without a mention for the role it is playing in the global quest for energy efficiency. By visually revealing the defects that are leading to energy waste in buildings of all shapes and sizes, the technology is now regarded as a key player in the battle. IRT Surveys has taken this innovation a stage further by developing software that takes the data provided by a thermal image and quantifying it in monetary terms. If you are interested in finding out more about this, click here.