How Infrared Is Used Around the World
Infrared (IR) is a type of electromagnetic radiation that was discovered by William Herschel in the year 1800. Since then, it has been used to develop technology that has changed several industries for the better, and just about every field from medicine to space exploration has benefited from infrared tech.
The benefits aren’t just industrial; technologists and resourceful industry professionals have put infrared to use in combating issues and developing solutions that are particular to certain parts of the world. We’ve highlighted some of the most prominent advancements that IR has brought to these countries.
In the 1960s, two of the world’s superpowers – the USA and the Soviet Union – went head to head in a race to place man on the moon and launch the first – and most efficient – journey into space. The USA won that race when Neil Armstrong uttered the words, “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
Tensions have eased and space travel has become a more collaborative process between countries, but the USA’s NASA remains the world’s leading body when it comes to researching anything space-related. For those involved in space research, telescopes (which rely on the capabilities of the human eye) limit what we can learn about galaxies beyond our own.
As a result of this, experts have used infrared thermal-imaging tech to map solar systems that are beyond the reach of the human eye. These images are created using heat sensors rather than light like a normal camera, giving researchers enough visibility to learn more about outer space and make plans for future space travel.
With rising sea-levels and countries becoming hotter than ever, the effects of global warming are now obvious. Hot weather combined with a dry landscape has the potential to cause wildfires that quickly consume the environment, destroy habitats, and even spread to towns, devastating lives in the process.
Emergency services work hard to stop these fires from spreading, using valuable resources in the process. The best way to stop a wildfire is to catch it in its early stages, thereby extinguishing the fire before it gets a chance to spread and become unmanageable.
Countries such as Australia and the USA’s drier, hotter states are currently trialling an expensive piece of technology, whereby infrared imaging is used to identify forest fires before they become too big to control.
Your body temperature should generally fall between 36°C and 37°C. If your temperature falls out of this range, it is an indicator to doctors that something is wrong and you need further examination. Body temperature is almost always taken using a thermometer, but researchers in India are testing ways to use infrared thermal imaging to detect potential issues with patients.
Abnormal body temperature can be a result of numerous different illnesses, but the aim is to use infrared imaging to pinpoint problem areas, and to develop a detailed understanding about the ways that body temperature reacts to different problems. In doing this, doctors will be able to locate the source of an illness and treat it faster than they would be able to with a general body-temperature reading.
Iceland is home to naturally heated pools, volcanoes, and other volcanic formations, all of which are signs of a geothermally active location. This means that Iceland sits on the joining point between two tectonic plates, where heat energy drives up and effects the landscape. This energy has proved useful for the Icelandic people, who harness it to power their towns and heat their homes.
The only issue with this type of energy is that is can be unpredictable, and being able to monitor and adapt to it is the key to making the most of it and avoiding natural disasters. Infrared imaging has been used to measure the heat signals that come from below the earth in thermally active countries, and this allows energy experts to make predictions about what is going to happen geothermally, ensuring that energy supplies remain high and that potentially fatal disasters are avoided.
The Power of Infrared in Your Living Room
If you like the sound of infrared technology but you don’t have a volcano to hand, you can introduce it to your home through energy-saving smart-heaters. Or if you just want to learn a little bit more about the technology itself, take a look at our guide to the science behind infrared.