by Des Ryan
Thermal or night imaging has always been something to dream about for the cruising sailor. Man overboard situations, debris in the water, entering unknown harbours or anchorages at night, even a lost fender - and if you're into cold water sailing what a boon for iceberg identification! These days, with a new product from Raytheon using FLIR technology, the prices are starting to be realistic for a wider range of rescue facilities, and come into the price range of the individual cruising sailor.
Invaluable for man overboard situations
The thermal imager is already a proven asset in the world of search and rescue, but has always been still too expensive for every volunteer coastguard station to have one.
Digital Thermal Imager from Raytheon
Time is a critical factor in all SAR applications and can often mean the difference between life and death. The most valuable SAR targets are people and animals.
These targets emit a thermal signature that is almost always significantly different than the background because of their body heat. The human thermal signature is highly visible against background water.
The Nightsight Palm IR 225, with its all new breakthrough pricing (lower than $10,000), is allowing a wider range of organisations and individuals to explore the benefits of thermal imaging equipment...and this new system is lighter and easier to use than ever before.
This means that thermal imaging has never been as easy or as cost effective. The low cost of this unit allows smaller rescue operations to step up to the thermal world, and larger authorities are now able to implement several imagers within their budgetary limitations.
More imagers in the field provide for better coverage in any rescue situation and increase the usefulness of this valuable tool.
The technology is actually quite a simple concept. The magic inside each camera is a special thermal imaging disk capable of distinguishing differences in temperature as small as 50 one-thousandths of one degree Celsius.
It's really as simple as this: everything has a temperature and nearly everything either emits or reflects heat in different ways, allowing a sensitive device to 'see' using heat rather than light.
What you might see with FLIR technology
It is really not exaggerating to say that the thermal imaging technology demonstrated by FLIR almost turns nighttime boating into daytime boating.
Most cruisers have radar. I can see the day when most cruisers, especially those embarking on major long range cruises, will also have a Nightsight Palm IR225 or some version of this great technology.
For more information connect with your local Raytheon distributor, or go to the Raytheon http://www.raytheon.com/!website.