Wed, 2014-08-06 12:10 AM

In an early morning television interview with CNN earlier this week, Gary Strahan, founder and CEO of Infrared Cameras, Inc. of Beaumont, TX released a dramatic piece of news. His company’s thermal imaging cameras, unlike almost any other thermal camera, can detect sickness and fever in travelers at airport checkpoints.

The CNN interview came at a time of heightened concern in the U.S. over the possibility of deadly diseases such as the deadly Ebola virus entering the country for the first time, as two American aide workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and his colleague, nurse Nancy Writebol, return to the States from Liberia, where they were both infected with Ebola while treating infected patients.

A statement on the website of Infrared Cameras, Inc. discussing the effectiveness of its cameras in detecting sickness in travelers states succinctly, “Perfect for airports, our medical imaging infrared cameras are two to three times more sensitive than the normal surveillance camera” — a claim that is verified by the Center for Disease Control in a posting, also on the IFI website, which reads:

“Our results demonstrated that fever screening at airports is an effective means of identifying imported dengue (Fever) cases, whereas the health statements of inbound passengers, which have been required for years, are ineffective. Although fever screening with infrared temperature screening was implemented in an attempt to avoid SARS transmission, it proved to be effective in active surveillance of dengue.”

In another part of the Infrared Cameras website, a “Medical Thermal Imaging Gallery” includes a list of ailments where the application of medical thermal imaging has proven to be effective: Multiple Sclerosis, Deep Breast Thermography, Cancer Screening Thermography, Migraine Headaches, Dental Thermal Imaging and Veterinarian Training Thermal Imagery.

The ICI site goes on to categorize a series of applications for the company’s products, ranging from electric and mechanical imaging technology to uses in research and development. Applications in homeland security are identified as military security, maritime infrared, fire-fighting and medical infrared applications.

Calling the offices of Infrared Cameras, Inc. in Beaumont, TX, GSN was referred to Jennifer Strahan, a VP of the company. Ms. Strahan, the daughter of Gary Strahan, indicated that while the company’s infrared cameras are not a household name in American airports, they’re quite prevalent in airports in Europe, South Africa and other African countries, Cancun and multiple other locations all over the globe. At the present time, she mentioned, her Dad is getting ready to fly over to West Africa to do some further research on Ebola.

A day later, after completing a meeting with the Sitac committee which is involved with Sensor Instruments Technology, Gary Strahan picked up the phone and provided GSN with a wide ranging description of Infrared Cameras and the many applications of thermal imaging technology.

By way of introduction, Strahan pointed out that all sensor technologies are restricted because they’re used in missiles and weapons. “It’s between Commerce and State as to what kind of technology can be sold outside of the country. It’s also very expensive and time consuming to do the paperwork and get FDA clearance.

“Our claim to fame,” he said, is that our cameras are very small, have very low power, are very sensitive and very accurate. Every pixel is a non-contact thermometer. Some of the ISI cameras are very small, the size of a quarter. Industrial thermal cameras are not really measurement cameras. They can’t really measure temperature levels.

But if you’re talking about the precisely calibrated thermal imaging cameras that are used in medical applications such as mammography, they have a tremendous potential, not only in medicine but also in agriculture. Farmers can use infrared cameras to measure the leaf temperatures of their crops. The Imperial
Valley in California is totally dependent on water. Infrared technology can determine whether they’re dying for lack of water or overwatered. Plants get sick just like people. Infrared can bring the crop from 100 bushels to 160 bushels.

The main markets for Infrared Cameras, Inc are Medical, Space and Aviation and Process Control. “But airports are a great market, a market that’s going to grow.”

“It takes a lot of time, money and painstaking effort. We’ve been writing software and using a series of proprietary algorithms for years. It takes a knowledge of sensor technology and optics. All of these are needed to make the most accurate cameras.”  

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