Examining Thermal BenefitsBy John Honovich, Published on Jun 15, 2009
In the July 2009 Security Products magazine, FLIR published two articles - a Q&A and a survey of applications using FLIR cameras. The most note-worthy claims FLIR makes in these articles: (1) costs are being driven down to high volume commercial level, (2) FLIR is aiming for "IR everywhere", (3) thermal improves video analytic performance and (4) thermal provides crisp images in total darkness.
FLIR's marketing has been focusing on lower price, broader use for some time now. Currently, even at about $3,000, it's still quite expensive for security use (especially compared to fixed cameras with an IR illuminator (costing about 1/3rd that price). It will be interesting to see how far thermal camera pricing can drop. Also, a frequent complaint about thermal is that you lose the details of people in a thermal image. While thermal may provide 'crisp images', many specifiers still prefer the greater details provided by D/N cameras with IR illuminators.
[Update 2012: FLIR's thermal camera pricing has not dropped signiciantly but they bought a consumer manufacturer, Lorex, with the aim of delivering lower cost thermal cameras.]