FLIR weighs up warmth - Education Matters Magazine
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FLIR weighs up warmth

Sean Towner, Sales Manager Science, Instruments for FLIR, explains how the company’s thermal cameras are ideal to teach students about a fundamental principle of physics.

With the secondary school curriculum having made a seismic shift to the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, a perennial obstacle for educators was the lack of tools to demonstrate practically what they were teaching in theory.

Sean Towner, Regional Manager East, Instruments for FLIR, says that is where his company’s thermal imaging cameras come in, allowing educators to teach a fundamental principle of physics that is everywhere in our daily lives: heat.

“Heat is such an important scientific indicator across all science disciplines, whether it be heat conduction and radiation principles, required when designing 21st century energy efficient dwellings, understanding the inflammation process in sickness and ensuing elevated body temperatures, or the demonstration of energy or heat release in chemical reactions,” Mr Towner says.

He says FLIR has been developing and manufacturing thermal infrared (IR) imaging cameras for more than 50 years and is recognised as the global market leader in the technology.

“The FLIR products are built on a proud engineering pedigree extending back to post-second World War,” Mr Towner says. “The things that really make FLIR IR cameras stand out is that FLIR is seen as the innovator, so it is always bringing new features to its cameras before its competitors.

A good example of this is the patented MSX technology that allows the thermal image to have the corresponding visual image outline overlaid, giving a much more detailed and nuanced perception of what the observer is seeing.”

Another factor is the diversity of camera models that FLIR manufactures for different markets and applications, he says.

The products are used in a wide range of markets. These include industrial preventative maintenance on electrical and mechanical components, visualisation of gas leaks that would otherwise go undetected, fire and rescue operations, aerial thermography and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).

They are also used in the building industry to look for moisture penetration and assessment of energy envelopes, the electricity utility market that keeps the country’s lights on, in research and development in the military and academia, in medical and veterinary fields, in security and surveillance and in defence markets where the cameras can save lives.

“To be able to design and manufacture specific models for such a diverse market really sets FLIR apart in the thermal imaging market,” Mr Towner says.

As educators and policy makers realise the importance of scientific and technical skills that students require for their future economy and employment, FLIR’s thermal imaging cameras are ideal, he says.

“A FLIR thermal imaging camera, at an affordable price, now allows educators and students to visualise the heat pattern on an image, and as we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.”

FLIR’s C3 or E6 models are part of its Educational Discounts Program and give students the opportunity to discover how thermal imaging finds problems that are normally invisible. The cutting-edge technology can help them enhance their skills and gain an advantage in the workplace.

The C3 offers professional grade features in a compact, rugged thermal camera that fits in a pocket. It has a three-inch intuitive touch screen, is Wi-Fi enabled for instant image sharing, uses FLIR’s registered MSX thermal image enhancement with visible detail, and features an area measurement box that measures maximum and minimum temperatures.

The larger E6, also now with Wi-Fi, is one of FLIR’s most affordable for building inspections, energy performance, restoration, and safety checks. Its 160 by 120 pixel infrared resolution, has a 45° field of view to capture more, the MSX thermal image enhancement and a focus-free lens and bright liquid crystal display for point-and-shoot simplicity.

FLIR’s Educational Kits include a thermal imaging camera and software, in addition to a range of practical exercises. These allow the collection of quantifiable data that form the basis of further lessons and discussions.

Mr Towner says that with the school curriculum being increasingly slanted toward STEM subjects, thermal imaging technology is becoming a staple item in many classrooms.

Because FLIR has been in the thermal imaging market from the outset, it has layer upon layer of technical and engineering expertise, patents and knowhow to draw on that other more recent manufacturers don’t have, he says.

“FLIR recognises the learning perspectives that an infrared thermal imaging camera can bring to a classroom and we hope to advance the STEM skills of students nationwide.”

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