You’d be hard-pressed to find a better sense of freedom than time spent on the water. Those who venture offshore are rewarded with privacy, fresh air, and expansive sightlines. But this freedom isn’t reserved for those pursuing recreation or industry. The changing conditions, impending darkness, and solitude of our waterways can quickly create hazardous situations and provide cover for illegal activity. It is more important than ever to remain vigilant on the water.
Thermal imaging is a longstanding tool for improved marine awareness. Its ability to detect vessels, objects, and body heat in complete darkness and through atmospheric obscurants allows safer, 24/7 navigation. Not all thermal cameras are created equal, variables such as sensor resolution, lens size, and whether the camera is cooled or uncooled influence the image’s clarity and range.
Making use of 360-degree sightlines is one of the best ways for professional captains and law enforcement to maintain an advantage over nearby vessels. The extent of this advantage hinges on the ability to detect and determine the intentions of approaching watercraft over long distances. When the space between you and a potential threat directly influences the amount of time to respond, long-range imaging is one of the most powerful tools to have on board.
Cooled vs. Non-Cooled Range Performance
The M500 achieves double the image clarity of other non-cooled thermal cameras thanks to a liquid helium cooling system. These cooled mid-wave infrared sensors enlist the same technology as high-performance military systems and outperform long-wave imagers (non-cooled) in fog and haze conditions. The cooling system chills the camera’s internal sensor to -387°F (-233°C), which reduces thermally-induced noise to a level below that of the scene. This noise reduction produces a sharp, super-sensitive image perfectly suited for long-range imaging.
Equipped with a cooled sensor and 14x optical zoom lens, the M500 can detect small vessels up to 8 nm away and classify onboard activity out to 2 nm. This long-range detection is particularly impressive compared to a high-end uncooled camera, such as the M400, which features 3.5 nm detection and 1 nm classification capabilities.
M500 human activity classification performance compared to various uncooled cameras
Cooled thermal imaging is a powerful tool for locating those in need of help and maintaining a safe standoff distance from potential threats. Effectively doubling your detection and classification range, the cooled M500 increases your window of time to make mission-critical, life-saving decisions. Expansive waterways can be as daunting as they are freeing. Equipping your vessel with high-performance thermal optics quickly turns those vast, open areas into an opportunity to maintain the upper hand.