What Does a Thermal Imaging Camera Do? And How Will It Help Me Drive?

With so many technological innovations hitting the automobile market and making big promises, it can be pretty hard to find the ones that actually improve your driving experience. If you’re looking for some fun technology that also increases your safety on the road, look no further than a thermal imaging camera.

A thermal imaging camera system consists of a camera and a dash-mounted screen. The camera uses thermal imaging to detect objects that won't be well illuminated by your headlights or even night vision cameras. Worthy of James Bond, this gadget reveals what's ahead on dark nights, giving you time to maneuver, stop, change course, or otherwise avoid trouble.

What is Thermal Imaging and How Does it Work?

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Thermal imaging allows you to detect people, objects, and animals in total darkness. With a special lens and sensor that detects the infrared light emitted by living things and inanimate objects alike, the camera system makes night driving more adventurous, yet less dangerous. That infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but the camera's sensor detects it. Once the sensor detects infrared light, it passes the information along to a signal processing unit. From there,  it displays the shape (which is made into a 3D image based on the amount of heat emitted by certain areas of the person, animal, or object) on an electronic display - screen or a heads-up windshield display.

Because a thermal imaging camera picks up heat, it is an incredibly useful tool. It detects a lot more things than a regular or night vision camera can. In fact, government agencies (such as search and rescue teams, the military, and the FBI) use thermal imaging technology to seek out bad guys and save the day. For example, authorities were able to find one of the culprits behind the Boston Marathon bombings with a thermal camera. That's how they detected him hiding inside a parked boat, under the cover.

Thermal imaging isn’t just for government use or commercial use. Regular people like us can outfit our cars with thermal imaging cameras to help increase our vision at night.

Thermal Imaging Camera Features

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Thermal imaging camera setups vary between brands. NightRide is a premium brand for thermal imaging camera systems. A NightRide system consists of:

  • A wireless camera that's mounted to the rear edge of the car's hood
  • A display that can be either mounted on the dash or configured into a heads-up display that projects the screen onto the windshield

A NightRide thermal imaging camera system is wireless, making installation easy. It doesn't require any wiring, drilling, or anything complicated, so installation takes only a couple of minutes. When you have a cool new gadget, you sure don't want to spend hours setting it up.

The Benefits of Driving With a Thermal Imaging Camera


Safety is the main benefit of using a thermal imaging camera while driving at night. A thermal imaging camera can detect people, animals, and obstacles on the road at least 1/4 of a mile away. That means a thermal imaging camera doesn't eliminate surprises in the road - it just gives you time to prepare for upcoming obstacles and handle them with ease. In fact, thermal imaging cameras provide much more visibility than headlights and night vision cameras. Headlights provide a visibility range of between 150 and 250 feet, which isn't much when you're going 60 miles per hour. NightRide provides a visibility range of up to 1,800 feet, quickly provides that information right at the driver's line of sight, and makes night driving safer and more interesting.

Another benefit of using a thermal imaging camera while driving at night is cost. While a thermal imaging camera costs some money upfront, it'll save you thousands of dollars in damage from animal strikes or other types of car accidents because it will help you avoid these situations.

If you're thinking about outfitting your car with a thermal imaging camera, look no further than NightRide, an advanced thermal imaging camera system. Ready for a new automobile gadget that protects you while making the drive more fun?  You can read more about NightRide here.