Full digital monitoring and recording cameras

I recently had a customer ask for recommendations about cameras that could ‘plug and play’ with computers. They had an application where they were monitoring a thin layer of oil for bubbles, which are indicative of the purity of the oil. They wanted a camera where they could take the raw video output figures in real time and perform some algorithmic analysis of the resulting image. I was pretty blown out of the water by what they were after, and forgive me if much of my language is incorrect, but it was a great exercise in camera capabilities.

There are a number of ways that this can be done:

1. Any camera with a digital video output can perform this function, but requires a second step. Software like Camtasia or Camstudio can convert a live video feed onto a computer monitor into a universal file output such as .mp4. Given that they had been doing this with a visual camera initially it seemed viable, but it requires some very intricate range / span and colour palette selections to get the most out of it. Almost all manufacturers will have some sort of analogue video output unit that will be able to output the video to a computer screen, and then the screen sharing programs will do the grunt of the work for you.

2. You can take the radiometric output from the thermal camera, and interpret the signal from there. There aren’t that many manufacturers that have an API (application programming interface) or an SDK (software development kit) but both Cox and Guide have cameras with radiometric output and an SDK.

The IPI 3-CM is a great option as it already has a great UI and software package with it. It is primarily used as a fixed monitoring unit, and has great software delivered with it. Combined with the SDK, the programmers among us will get a lot from this unit. I haven’t seen the SDK for the Guide cameras but the TP8 pro, MOBIr M8, R4 and R9 all have fully radiometric video output and an SDK to play around with.