Thermal Imagers: ZistosHD Dual Mode Thermal Camera vs Thermal Fusion Technology

Thermal cameras have come a long way since 1929 when the first infrared-sensitive camera was invented.  This new technology was initially considered exotic and it was expensive. In the last few years, the cost of thermal imaging technology has come down significantly, although thermal imagers with reasonable image resolution can still be pricey. Thermal fusion cameras, that utilize very low-resolution thermal sensors (80×60), which are enhanced by blending in a standard video signal, can be very inexpensive when compared to medium to high resolution thermal imagers. In certain applications the performance and suitability of images that utilizing thermal fusion can be questionable.

Thermal fusion is achieved when an image from a standard video camera is layered on top of an image from a low-resolution thermal sensor. This produces an image that depicts a black & white or colorized visualization of an object in the field of view of the thermal sensor that is outlined with an edge created from the standard video camera. The two cameras work in conjunction to give you a crude thermal image with enhanced edges. When used in this manner, the low resolution thermal fusion can produce a reasonable and usable thermal image. There are many applications where this approach is effective. It is useful in applications such as inspecting breaker panels, steam pipes, machinery, engines and other inspection applications where there is sufficient light for the standard video camera to produce a good image that can be utilized in the blending process. It also helps to know what you are looking at in advance, this is not always the case in many thermal imaging applications.

Image shows Thermal Fusion under perfect conditions

The shortcomings of this approach occur when the standard video camera that is producing the edge enhancement overlay on the thermal image doesn’t have enough light to create its outline. The image produced by the thermal fusion camera is now significantly compromised and may be of minimal value. Without the outlined overlay from the standard video camera, the thermal image has such low resolution that the image ends up looking like blotches of ill-defined color.  The image may not convey enough detail to make an accurate assessment of individuals and environment. When thermal fusion is utilized in tactical or victim location applications, you may not always have enough illumination for the standard video camera to produce a reasonable image. Additional external IR or white light illuminators will help, but they still might not deliver adequate illumination in all cases. This means that you may not be able to differentiate a partial or even full image of a human, from the background environment.

Image shows Thermal Fusion without enough light to produce outlines

The ZistosHD Dual Mode Thermal Camera (THC-51D-HD) allows the operator to instantly toggle between a 320×256 resolution thermal video camera and a 640×480 resolution, low-light, standard B&W video camera. The B&W video camera also has built in IR illumination that can further assist in low light conditions. Instead of overlaying an outline on top of a low-resolution thermal image, we use a higher resolution thermal camera in the same housing and an even higher resolution B&W low-light camera to switch between the two different images. We believe this construction is superior to thermal fusion for the following reasons.

Images show THC-51D-HD in both Thermal Mode & B&W IR Mode
  • The higher resolution thermal image produces a usable image without the need of any enhancement.
  • The secondary low-light B&W standard video camera can produce a video image that can convey additional visual details of the subject and environment.
  • In the THC-51D-HD, the Thermal and B&W IR Cameras are in the same housing. Therefore, there is no need to switch camera heads. It’s all done with system controls.
  • If the standard video camera in the thermal fusion process does not have enough light to produce a usable image the result is an extremely low-resolution thermal image which can be of limited value.
Left, Thermal Fusion Camera without enough light to produce outlines. Right, ZistosHD Dual Mode Thermal Camera in Thermal Mode in the same conditions.
  • The THC-51D-HD camera’s thermal mode can provide thermal detail regardless of ambient light levels.

All in all, despite thermal fusion being available as a new and low-cost thermal technology it may not be suitable as an imaging tool for many tactical and victim location/rescue missions, or any application where you can’t count on adequate illumination for the standard video camera to function. A higher resolution, standalone thermal image, such as the images produced by the ZistosHD THC-51D-HD camera, will in many instances be of more value than an image produced using a thermal fusion camera.

Largest Cocaine Seizure in US History

Video Credit to NBC10 Philadelphia

Congratulations to the members of the multi-agency team that were successful in the largest cocaine seizure in US History. The individuals involved in this mission engaged in a lot of hard work, in very difficult and dangerous conditions. We greatly appreciate their efforts and dedication in keeping our streets free of the 17.5 tons of illegal drugs captured in this operation.

All of us at Zistos are proud of the fact that our inspection equipment assisted them in the successful outcome of this landmark seizure. Thank you all for a job well done!

Visit us at the NTTC Conference 2019

New Wireless Video ZistosHD Tanker Inspection System

The wireless ZistosHD Tanker Inspection System enables a safe visual inspection of the interior of a tanker trailer or rail tanker for hygienic conditions, foreign objects, residual heel, cracks and corrosion.

This uniquely configured video pole camera system is inserted into the tanker hatch. Two horizontal stabilizer rods span the hatch of the manway allowing the pole camera to stay situated without the need for the operator to support its weight.

Learn More…

SafeAirLADDER for Safe Confined Space Entry (patent pending)

Keep safe by using redundant secondary atmospheric tests, which will help ensure a safe entry, when an entry is necessary.

Designed to perform a secondary test, as well as monitor and report environmental conditions — prior to an individual making a confined space entry, the SafeAirLADDER integrates gas metering electronics and alarm annunciation onto a ladder that is used to facilitate entry into a space.

The gas metering sensor is mounted to the base of the ladder and is designed to be inserted into a confined space — such as a tanker truck, rail tanker, processing tank, etc. The top of the ladder mounts onto the manway and has an integrated alarm console.

Learn More…

NTTC’s 71st Annual Conference & Exhibits – Floor Plan 2019

Visit us at NYTOA 2019

The Next Generation of Zistos Tactical Surveillance Gear has arrived!

In addition to having our standard definition, rugged & field-proven gear in the booth (208) at NYTOA, we will now be showing our New ZistosHD Tactical tools. The New ZistosHD Tactical tools are wireless, encrypted, support full 1080P resolution, and have an array of field-swappable telescoping poles and cameras as well as 6+ hour rechargeable batteries. This system design maximizes its suitability & availability for whatever your tactical operation may throw at you.

Learn more about ZistosHD Tactical Tools

Zistos Corporation
NYTOA – Booth #208
April 17-18
Turning Stone Resort & Casino
Verona, NY

Digital ZistosHD Tactical Systems

The ZistosHD system offers a state-of-the-art, high resolution tactical video tool that allows a tactical team to make a safe visual assessment of dangerous conditions, using highly detailed video images. The new ZistosHD encrypted wireless video system supports full 1080P HD video with most camera options. This new system design maximizes its suitability for use in many different tactical applications by offering interchangeable modules. They can be switched in the field to enhance the effectiveness of the system, in many different environments and applications. The system has been engineered to offer the highest resolution images that can be viewed on a variety of different digital display options, such as phones, tablets, laptops. The ZistosHD system will support up to three different simultaneous viewers. The images can be transmitted via wired or wireless methods and the phone display can be pole, or wrist-mounted.

Unlike the older easily compromised analog wireless video, our new wireless technology has been selected to provide a safe encrypted video stream that cannot be intercepted and is viewable without an appreciable delay.

The heart of the ZistosHD Tactical Video System is the ergonomically designed HD Handle. The handle offers integrated push buttons that facilitate all operations, including, illumination level control, still image capture, video record, zoom functions and motorized camera pan controls. The handle accepts a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that has an easily viewable, built-in battery charge level indicator. The battery charge level is even viewable when the system is off or the batteries are unplugged from the handle. The battery runtime will typically last 6+ hours depending on camera options and illumination settings. An external power input is also available as an option for alternate external power sources. The handle is ruggedly designed and all antennas are internal to prevent damage from rough handling.

ZistosHD – Tactical Overview Video

ZistosHD – Tactical Systems Sheet

ZistosHD – Component Catelog