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Integration of a thermographic camera with wearable devices for inspection and safety applications in industrial environments

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000238836D
Publication Date: 2014-Sep-22
Document File: 3 page(s) / 93K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

The aim is to incorporate an infrared thermography camera into a wearable device as for example Google Glass, head camera or a smart phone depending on the application and that is used for inspection or safety tasks in industrial environments. The proposed solution takes full advantage of the particular capabilities of wearable devices. These typically include heads-up display, autonomous power supply, built-in microprocessor and navigation capabilities (GPS , triangulation, accelerometers & gyroscopes. Business benefits engendered by this idea are twofold: -Productivity and quality gains in Factories due to the real-time inspection of manufacturing equipment and produced goods. Use and sale of safety services and/or products for industrial environments. For instance: safety devices for factory floors; security services for power stations and substations.

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Integration of a thermographic camera with wearable devices for inspection and safety applications in industrial environments

Idea: Oliver Steiger, Joris Pascal

The idea is an infrared thermography camera that is incorporated into a wearable device (Google Glass, head camera, smart phone) and used for inspection and safety tasks in industrial environments. The usage of wearable solutions fundamentally differs from that of state-of-the-art static cameras. In fact, wearable cameras are by definition always at hand and can be easily moved and aimed at susceptible locations. Also in safety applications, wearable cameras allow one to permanently link the monitored area with the person to be protected.

Technical background

Infrared thermography cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum (roughly 9-14 μm) and produce images of that radiation, called thermograms. This makes it possible to see one's environment with or without visible illumination, and it allows one to see variations in temperature.

Thermography has numerous applications in industrial environments as exemplarily outlined in Figure 1. For instance, it can be used to detect hotspots on electrical and other equipment. This in turn helps one to identify malfunctions (e.g. overloaded motors, short-circuited breakers) and safety hazards (e.g. hot ladles in metallurgy). It can also be used to detect human and animal intrusion in restricted areas such as power stations. Finally, thermography is often used to inspect manufactured goods such as printed circuit boards (PCB) for malfunctions. For further fields of application it is referred to the section "References".

(a) (b)

Figure 1: Examples of thermography for monitoring and safety applications in industrial environments. (a) Hotspot/short circuit detection in circuit breakers; (b) Hot ladle identification in metallurgy.

The applications as outlined in Figure 1 could strongly benefit from wearable thermography cameras carried by factory workers or maintenance personnel. For instance during malfunctions, this allows the operator to aim the camera at susceptible locations and to track down errors by moving along the parts. In hazardous environments the person to be protected could wear the camera, thus letting the camera "see" the danger at the same time and under the same perspective as the person. Also, wearable infrared cameras allow security personnel to track intruders in the dark.

Date 2014-09-22

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Nowadays, two major limitations prevent the widespread use of thermography cameras: cost and bulkiness. Quality cameras have a high price range of USD 3'000.- or more, whilst cheaper cameras only operate at low resolutions of about 40x40 to 120x120 pixels. Also, thermography cameras have dimensions that exceed those of typical video cameras. The pervasive and wearable use of such cameras is not practicable.

However, compact and che...