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Predicting the IR Market

One year ago I made some predictions about where I thought the market might be headed (click here to read full post). It is useful, I think, to see how today’s reality compares with yesterday’s dreams.

A $1,000 imager

We are close, but thankfully not yet there. Sales of lower-cost systems continue to grow. This has filled many useful voids, especially in the buildings and maintenance markets, but it has also led to more and more people using the technology without knowing what they are doing.

Radiometric video recording in the imager

Several manufacturers have this capability in systems priced under $10k. While Fluke isn’t in that group yet, I am confident we will see one in this New Year and that it will be exceptional. I predict having video once again (we used to, but it was expensive) will open up new worlds of application.

New and better training

I still dream of “new and better training,” but maybe I don’t really know what that looks like. After all I grew up on filmstrips and video training! Certainly training and good information is easier to get. Two examples of this are more on the internet and shorter, more focused classes—but there is also more bad training than ever and way too many examples of information on the web that is just inaccurate.

More and more building experts, like these two from Vermont’s Weatherization Assistance Program, continue to successfully expand the use of lower-cost imaging systems.

High-resolution applications development

Namely medical and natural science, have continued to develop even if more slowly than I’d hoped. These sorts of applications also tend to take time to become visible to the general public.

RESNET standards for thermography

The most disappointing prediction I made was about the new RESNET standards for thermography. They have, unfortunately and probably predictably, gotten mired the organizational bureaucracy. Certainly this fact has done little to slow the use of thermal imaging among buildings professionals even if some of the work is not always of the quality it should be. We’ve especially seen this in the Weatherization Assistance Program that helps low-income people improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Image quality in 2011 continued to improve dramatically even while prices dropped. A small piece of missing insulation in this cathedral ceiling demonstrates the remarkable power of the technology to help us locate even small problems in buildings.

Like stock market predictions, you should always read the fine print and hedge your bets. That said, thermal imaging is still one of the best bets I know of. Even if I was not 100% on target with some of the details, the market for thermal imagers has never been stronger. If you have not jumped in yet, the next month or anytime in 2012 is a good time to do it. The tax advantages of an investment in an imager are excellent (consult your accountant please!). The imagers are better than ever and the value you get for you money can’t be beat!

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

2 comments to Predicting the IR Market

  • High resolution applications need affordable instruments. I have several projects in development, using high resolution thermal imaging (for the moment for 640×480 pixels, but if camera with higher resolution would be cheaper, I would definitely switch to them, though detector manufacturers work really hard this year), and all of them are delayed due to quite high cost of investments.
    So the applications already are here. Give us cheaper cameras! 🙂

  • John Snell

    I agree! That said, even the 320×240 systems with interchangeable lenses, like the Fluke Ti32, allow us to get 640×240 resolution (with a limited field of view) by adding the telephoto lens. That camera and lens is now priced at under $10K in the US, an amazing price. The demand for 640×480 systems will probably never be great enough to bring the price down that low, but who knows?!?!