The Evolution of Thermography

Thermal imaging was first developed by Kálmán Tihanyi, for the anti-aircraft defence in Britain, following world war 1, in 1929. The camera created was called the Evaporograph.

Once the news of the Evaporographs success had spread, it then began to grow in the United States where the US military and Texas Instruments, created the first infrared line scanner in 1947. Thermography cameras were then accompanied with the ability to produce one single image this, however, took one hour at a time to produce. The camera was then used on the cargo planes and bombers at the beginning of the cold war.

In 1970, Philips and EEV (English Electronic Valve) developed the Pyroelectric Vidicon tube; this led to the production of the first naval thermal imager by the Royal Navy, for shipboard firefighting. 1978, soon approached and Raytheon's research and development team patented ferro-electric infrared detectors that used BST (barium strontium titanate). The BST was used to coat the thermal sensors, which went on to be demonstrated to the US military one year later.

Microbolometer technology was the next thing to be developed in the year 1980 by Honeywell.  The project had soon been granted funding by LOCUSP (Low-cost Uncooled Sensor Programme) for both Honeywell and Raytheon, to further develop thermal imaging technological capabilities into equipment for military use and commercial applications.

In 1987, thermal imaging had found a place in many other markets. The release of Predator had given thermal imaging another purpose; being used in the film by the alien hunter to stalk his prey with the use of a FLIR thermal camera; introducing thermography to the world of cinema.

Once thermal imaging had been further developed and had reached out to other markets, more industries were tapping into the technology, such as firefighters who found it useful for detecting victims in smoke-filled rooms.


By the early 2000s, the cost of a thermal camera was decreasing and so was the size of them; leading to 2006 where they became more readily available for home inspectors and businesses. The launch of the FLIR One in 2014, gave homeowners the ability to afford infrared cameras at a much smaller cost.

These days, thermal imaging technology has made its way into cars too, giving you extra protection and another pair of eyes, helping you see undetectable things in the naked light with the use of heat detection. Not only can thermal imaging help you see heat signatures, but you can also now detect gases with the use of FLIR gas imaging too; providing the ultimate protection and satisfaction of seeing what has never been possible before.