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 true 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.

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

SHOT Show 2018 Recap

Zistos was recently at SHOT Show 2018 in Las Vegas where we showcased a broad selection of our reliable, field proven tactical surveillance video tools. For those of you who may have been unable to attend, we wanted to give a quick overview of what we showed so you don’t miss out!

Tactical Pole Camera Systems: Customization options offer a variety of poles ranging from 2’ to 40’ as well as IR, thermal, zoom, fixed focused, and color cameras in addition to a choice of our display options to complete a kit.

WalkAbout Display: Our body-worn, ruggedly built 5.6” LCD display powers any of our tactical cameras using a rechargeable battery and generates a clear, detailed video image.

The WatchAbout display can be used in conjunction with the WalkAbout, enabling other team members to receive and view the wireless tactical video on a small wrist-mounted video screen.

The Through-The-Wall System contains specially designed hand drill and cutting tools, cameras, display and audio module that allow visual and audio observation into an adjacent interior room through a sheetrock wall. This system is perfect for hostage barricade scenarios as well as explosive breaching.

Dual View Under Door Camera: This camera has a specially designed pole that keeps the operator of the camera out of the fatal funnel of the doorway. It has a forward facing camera to look into the room and an upward facing camera to view the backside of the door as well as audio listening capabilities.

Our Dual Mode Thermal Camera incorporates both a thermal camera and an IR illuminated B&W camera in one housing.  They can easily be switched between merely by using the illumination knob on the WalkAbout display. The thermal camera is great for location and the IR B&W mode is great for seeing a detailed image.

Portable Network Surveillance Camera (PNSC) is a highly compact, self-powered, wireless Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) camera that can be rapidly deployed anywhere! The entire system packs into one PelicanTM case and can transmit wireless, encrypted data to a command location, where the images can be viewed on a computer or tablet.

StealthSCOPE: This scope is a standalone compact videoscope that can covertly see 20ft into complete darkness due to its internal IR laser light source.  Its 9mm diameter and 4-way remote articulation makes it perfect for small openings and tight areas such as around corners, over walls, under doors and inside vents and ceilings.

For more information or a free product demonstration, please don’t hesitate to reach out by phone: (631) 434-1370, email: info@zistos.com or website: www.zistos.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

The Dual View Under Door Camera

The Zistos Dual View Under Door Camera is designed to provide visual information of an otherwise unviewable situation or environment – from underneath the door.  Its applications consist of hostage-barricade scenarios, dynamic entries, clearing a building’s interior, and many more. It can be an invaluable tool for a tactical team.

This system consists of a uniquely designed dual sensor camera that generates a video image, under low light conditions, when inserted into the small slot underneath a closed door.

The camera contains two low light sensors with invisible IR illuminators in its 5 mm thick tongue. One sensor points forward, the other points upwards.  The forward looking sensor lets you see into the interior of the room, while the upward looking sensor allows you to see back at the inside of the door and door frame.  Looking back at the inside of the door allows you to see barricades, booby traps, trip wires and other potentially deadly devices before entering the room.  The display image is toggled from the forward sensor or the upward sensor by adjusting the illumination control knob on the display unit.

The Dual View Under Door Camera is also equipped with a built-in audio listening device with advanced signal processing that makes it easier to hear subtle audio information and reduces the loud sounds and background noise.

The double hinged pole allows a tactical team member to insert the camera and pan the room while away from the door frame and outside of the fatal funnel.

Like many of our systems, this camera uses a safe and secure wired design and the camera images are viewed on our portable battery powered WalkAbout monitor. This means that sensitive video images cannot be viewed by unauthorized third parties as is the case with many wireless systems. The monitor is very rugged, shock and weather resistant, and features a bright display that offers the highest resolution for its size.

The Zistos Under Door camera is a valuable tool that can provide video intelligence that can help ensure success in a tactical mission. This camera is fully compatible with the other tactical surveillance tools manufactured by Zistos, such as our articulating and telescoping pole cameras, our IR zoom pole cameras, thermal pole cameras, videoscopes, and even our through the wall camera.

It rounds out a suite of tools that are interchangeable and allow a team to increase their real time situational awareness so that they have a better chance of accomplishing their mission goals in a safe and effective manner.

For more information about Zistos portable video inspection systems, visit our website www.zistos.com, or call us at (631) 434-1370 to request a free, no obligation product demonstration.

Saving Money Through Safety Makes Sound Economic Sense

Zistos Industrial Inspection products increase the safety and efficiency of performing any inspection.

Zistos industrial inspection video camera systems are purpose-built to allow users to inspect elevated locations and confined spaces, safely out of harm’s way. They include two main primary capabilities:

Extended Reach Pole video camera systems can be telescoped to 20, 30 or 40 feet to allow the operator to remain safely on the ground without a ladder.

Confined Space Inspection cameras allow inspection of tanks, vaults, hoppers and other confined spaces while safely performing the operation outside them. Lightweight, durable and all weather, the system is ready to go in minutes. Continue reading “Saving Money Through Safety Makes Sound Economic Sense”