IR & thermal imaging are gradually developing into an established system that generates detailed spatial information about temperature distribution and its characteristics. Over the years, advancements in IR & thermal imaging systems and their enabling technologies have penetrated into different verticals, like aerospace & defense, thermography, security and surveillance, NDT, and others. This increases the scope of the IR & thermal imaging technology market. The technology is primarily being used in the aerospace & defense sector, allowing the mapping of objects and landscapes in a wide range of scales, with greater accuracy, precision, and flexibility. Encouragement from the government sector in automation, and adoption of IRT systems to various government sector activities, like flood relief and management, firefighting applications, and the homeland security sector, also results in positive growth of the industry.
Globally, there has been an increase in instability and in the incidences violent crimes across different regions. There is an increasing trend of cross-border terrorism across provinces. Many countries face insurgency issues, across the border from their neighboring countries. Also, the new dimensions of terrorism cause great loss to several government and non-governmental organizations. These factors augment the need for modernization programs of the military equipment to maintain deterrent capabilities. These factors boost the market for advanced technologies, like IR & thermal imaging systems. Further, in the United States, the Department of Defense has made significant investments in the development of advanced wearable technologies, incorporated with lightweight sensors, actuators, and GPS. This can be attributed to new inventions in the defense sector, which can bring an exponential change in the market.
Uncooled IR cameras come with a common detector, which is designed based on the microbolometer, a tiny vanadium oxide resistor, with large temperature coefficient of a silicon element. Uncooled infrared cameras do not have cryogenic cooling system. The principle of uncooled IR cameras is where smallest changes in scene temperature can cause changes in the bolometer temperature sensing device, which are again converted to electrical signals to process into an image. These devices are designed to work in the long wave infrared (LWIR) band, where terrestrial temperature targets emit most of their infrared energy. Uncooled cameras come with less moving parts, and these factors tend to have a much longer service life compared to cooled cameras, under similar operating environments.
North America is the largest market for IR & thermal imaging systems. The United States is the major shareholder in the North American region. In Canada, where the market was relatively stable during the recessionary period, the gains are more visible.
There have been a series of new product launches and mergers and acquisitions in North America, to take the advantage of the recent opportunities in this market. The major driver behind the investments is the continuous evolution and application of new technologies, to unlock enormous volumes that were previously considered non-commercial. With these series of investments, industrial and transportation security and surveillance systems applications in North America are set to boom over the next five years. North America is the largest market for IR & thermal imaging systems. The United States is the major shareholder in the North American region.
Major Players: FLIR SYSTEMS, L-3 COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, ULIS SAS, LOCKHEED MARTIN, BAE SYSTEMS PLC, DRS TECHNOLOGIES INC., ELBIT SYSTEMS LTD, RAYTHEON CO., SOFRADIR SAS, THERMOTEKNIX SYSTEMS LTD, amongst others.