Covid-19 raises demand for thermal imagers and detectors

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By Anne-Françoise Pelé for EETIMES – Thermal imaging and sensing technology will certainly be among the lines of defense against the Covid-19 virus, according to market research firm Yole Développement (Lyon, France), triggering a boom in the market for thermal technologies. Between 2019 and 2020, the thermal imager and thermal detector markets are projected to rise by 76 percent and 20 percent, respectively. 

Automotive down, thermography and public surveillance up

The Covid-19 pandemic is reshuffling the cards. High-volume applications such as automotive and ruggedized smartphones, which were expected to boom, are showing signs of stagnation, especially as production shifts towards more cameras for fever detection applications. Based on industry indicators, Yole now predicts that thermal imagers will be a $7.6 billion market, up 76 percent year-over-year. Previous forecasts predicted a $4.5 billion market, up 8 percent year-over-year. 

Thermal imagers — microbolometers — have been struggling to penetrate the automotive market, and the current crisis will worsen the situation. The first effect is mechanical, said Éric Mounier, fellow analyst at Yole. Due to the slowdown in car shipments, microbolometer shipments for cars will drop.

Eric Mounier - Yole Développement

“Microbolometers for night vision have always been considered as a luxury option in cars and an expensive add-on, we believe that, in the current sanitary crisis, people will put less money to buy high-end cars.” The second reason is that “thermal imaging is not yet considered as an important ADAS system in cars. We talk about CMOS image sensors, radars, lidars, but night vision is still perceived as a redundancy sensor for ADAS.”

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