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The global infrared imaging market size was valued at USD 6.85 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 7.35 billion in 2023 to USD 11.15 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.1% during the forecast period.
Infrared imaging or IR imaging is a technique of capturing and visualizing infrared light from objects and converting it into visible images interpretable by the human eye. The infrared scale is spread across a 10-100 micrometer wavelength range in the electromagnetic region. It can be divided into three bands - near-IR region (0.7 to 1.3 microns), the shortwave-IR region (1.3 to 3 microns) and thermal-IR region. Thermal-IR includes mid-wave-IR region (3 to 5 microns) and longwave-IR (8 to 12 microns). Hence, thermal imaging is a subset of IR imaging.
While the near-IR and short-IR are employed in common electronic applications, such as remote control and illumination infrared photography, thermal infrared is used in thermal imaging. The primary distinction is that the first two are used in reflecting applications, whereas thermal IR is emitted from the object rather than reflected by it. Infrared thermography was initially developed to enhance military capabilities. But it has since found usage in many industrial and medical applications, in addition to being a sought-after instrument in astronomy, military, and remote sensing. The rising demand for surveillance and monitoring systems from various end-use industries is expected to drive the growth of the global market from 2023 to 2030.
Increased Demand for Infrared Thermography Scanners Positively Impacted the Market during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted global supply chains, which had a major impact on the availability and delivery of infrared thermographic equipment. Many manufacturers faced challenges in sourcing raw materials and components, which resulted in delays in production and distribution. While certain industries experienced a decline in demand, there was a surge in demand for IR imaging technology in the healthcare sector. Infrared cameras were extensively used for temperature screening and monitoring at public places, hospitals, and airports.
For instance, the sales of thermal imaging devices increased dramatically during this period, with the market (per device) growing by 426% from 2019 to 2020. However, an increase in China's market share from 15% to 63% came on account of market shares in the U.S., Europe, and South Korea. In 2020 alone, patents related to thermographic thermal imaging increased from an average of 2.5 patents per year to 48 new applications. The thermal imaging equipment sector grew 426% from 2019 to 2020, with Chinese companies recording the largest increase from 15% to 61%. Robust surge in demand for Chinese products was due to the manufacturers’ ability to produce their own small pixel bolometers without relying on the U.S. or Europe imports.
Moreover, the social distancing measures were also becoming more stringent. This led to increased demand for remote monitoring and surveillance solutions. Infrared thermography scanners aid in the contactless monitoring of temperature and activities in various public places. The pandemic stimulated research and development efforts in the IR imaging industry. Furthermore, companies and researchers explored new applications of infrared thermography in their fight against COVID-19.
Multispectral Imaging and Integration of AI & ML are Prominent Market Trends
Multispectral imaging and integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) are the key trends gaining popularity in the market. Major companies are focusing on multispectral imaging and the integration of AI and ML to further improve the capabilities in various end use industries. Multispectral imaging refers to spectral imaging technologies that provide images corresponding to at least a small number of spectrum channels, and sometimes more than ten. The spectral regions used are often quite outside the visible spectral range, encompassing portions of the infrared and ultraviolet ranges.
A multispectral imager can give wavelength channels for near-UV, red, green, blue, near-infrared, mid-infrared, and far-infrared light, as well as thermal radiation for thermal imaging. For instance, in January 2023, the U.S. Army Research Office awarded a USD 4.8 million grant to a Mizzou engineer and colleague at the University of Notre Dame to enable the creation of new generation multispectral infrared imagers. The team is employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to revolutionize the functioning of infrared sensors.
In 2022, the researchers were granted a patent for metasurface-integrated microbolometers, which contain networks of tiny antenna elements to give spectrum and polarization selectivity to the infrared sensors. The researchers will utilize ML to enable the metasurface-integrated microbolometers to extract chemical environments captured by thermal cameras using the new grant. Additionally, helmet-mounted sights, unmanned aerial vehicles, robots, and driver assistance systems for military vehicles are the other possible platforms.
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Rising Demand for Infrared Thermography from Defense Sector to Drive Market Growth
Infrared (IR) wavelengths are a major focus of military and defense research & development programs as most of the times surveillance and targeting operations take place at night. The military primarily employs infrared technology in the form of night vision goggles, missile guidance heads, and aerial Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) scanners. The increasing demand for IR imaging technology from military and defense sectors will catalyze the global infrared imaging market growth.
For instance, in December 2022, LightPath Technologies, Inc., a U.S.-based manufacturer and integrator of optical and infrared technologies, announced that it awarded a contract worth USD 2.5 million to provide advanced infrared optics for a critical international military program. The program, which would make use of the company's superior optics, focused on IR imaging and threat detection. The program had a high profile and was used by all branches of the U.S. military.
Additionally, in November 2021, L3Harris Technologies constructed a new state-of-the-art facility worth USD 110 million in Waterdown, Ontario, Canada, to meet the growing demand for its WESCAM MX-Series electro-optical and IR imaging technologies. WESCAM MX-Series multi-sensor, multi-spectral, Electro-Optic and Infrared (EO/IR) surveillance and targeting systems from L3Harris carry out intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and target acquisition tasks from platforms in the air, land, and sea domains.
Increasing Adoption of Infrared Imaging in Agriculture and Precision Farming to Catalyze Market Growth
Infrared thermography is being increasingly utilized in agriculture for precision farming. It helps monitor crop health, water stress, and pest infestations. This helps farmers optimize irrigation, fertilization, and pesticide applications, which ultimately leads to increased yields and resource efficiency. For instance, in November 2021, AgEagle Aerial Systems Inc., an industry-leading provider of full-stack drone, sensor, and software solutions, announced the release of MicaSense's most innovative drone sensor to date, named Altum-PT.
Altum-PT is a three-in-one solution tailored for enhanced remote sensing and agricultural research. In just one flight, it effortlessly merges an ultra-high resolution panchromatic imager, a built-in 320X256 radiometric thermal imager, and five independent spectral bands to create synchronized outputs. These outputs include RGB color, crop vigor, heat maps, and high resolution panchromatic.
Altum-PT, which claims to have twice the spatial resolution of the previous Altum sensor, will provide users with deeper analytical capabilities to detect issues at the plant level even in the early stages of growth. It can also conduct early-stage stand counting and season-long soil monitoring.
High Initial Investment and Research & Development Costs May Hamper Market Growth
The high costs of infrared thermography technologies can be a significant impediment to their general adoption. The initial capital required to purchase IR imaging equipment can be significant. High-quality infrared cameras and sensors, which are required for accurate and dependable imaging, are expensive. This price factor may dissuade small and medium-sized businesses from investing in infrared thermography systems. Research & Development (R&D) activities are necessary to bring advancements in IR imaging technology and enhance its resolution, sensitivity, and other performance characteristics.
Moreover, higher product pricing can result from increased R&D costs as well as costs related to implementing innovative technologies. Traditional cooled infrared detectors are more sensitive and effective than their uncooled rivals, but they cost a lot more. These factors are expected to hamper the market growth during the forecast period.
Uncooled Infrared Imaging to Gain Traction Due to Rising Demand for Compact and Affordable IR Imaging Systems
By technology, the market is categorized into cooled infrared imaging and uncooled infrared imaging. The uncooled infrared imaging segment dominates the infrared imaging market share and is estimated to be the fastest growing segment during the forecast period due to rising demand for compact and less expensive IR imaging systems from various end-use industries. Uncooled detectors use materials that change their electrical properties in response to infrared radiation, and these changes are converted into electrical signals to produce thermal images. Uncooled infrared cameras are commonly used in commercial applications, such as surveillance, building inspection, firefighting, and consumer thermal imaging cameras where extreme sensitivity and low-range performance are required.
The cooled infrared imaging segment will also hold a major market share. Cooled thermographic cameras have an image sensor integrated with a cryogenic cooler, which lowers the sensor's temperature to cryogenic levels. This reduction in sensor temperature is necessary to reduce heat-induced noise to a level lower than that of the captured scene signal. The increasing demand for thermal imaging to improve CCTV environments is anticipated to boost the growth of this segment.
Rising Demand for Surveillance and Homeland Security to Boost Adoption of Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR)
By wavelength, the market is bifurcated into near-infrared, Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR), Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR), and Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR). The LWIR segment is dominating the market and expected to register significant growth during the forecast period due to its increasing use in surveillance, homeland security, object detection, and other scientific & industrial applications. Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR) is a subset of the infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum that covers a wavelength ranging from 8 to 14 microns.
The Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) segment is estimated to be the fastest growing segment during the forecast period due to increasing demand for quality control and product inspection technologies. Short-Wave IR (SWIR) is a subset of the infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which covers a wavelength range of 1.4 to 3 microns. Since this wavelength is invisible to the human eye, it can often provide better images than visible light imaging.
Growing Demand from Law Enforcement Agencies to Increase Product Adoption in Security & Surveillance Applications
The market, by application, is segmented into security & surveillance, monitoring & inspection, and detection. The security & surveillance segment dominates the market and is expected to register a significant growth owing to the rising product demand from law enforcement agencies and government entities. Security and surveillance systems use various types of equipment to monitor and protect the general public and assets from potential threats and unauthorized access.
The monitoring & inspection segment is expected to be the fastest growing segment due to increasing product demand from the Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) sector. Monitoring & inspection comprises examining and evaluating activities, a process, or an object to ensure its compliance with the established standards. This aids in maintaining quality standards across various sectors.
Aerospace & Defense to Dominate Market Due to Increasing Use of Infrared Thermography for Non-Destructive Testing
By vertical, the market is segregated into aerospace & defense, automotive, healthcare, industrial, and others. The aerospace & defense segment dominates the market and is expected to grow significantly due to the increasing use of infrared thermography for non-destructive testing. Infrared thermography is used for non-destructive inspection of aircraft engine components and equipment to ensure crew safety and prevent breakdowns and technical problems. This technology provides more accurate testing than traditional methods, so it can detect more specific errors.
The automotive segment is expected to be the fastest growing one due to the rising demand for Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) globally. ADAS vehicles and Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) require sensors that provide sufficient scene data for detection and classification algorithms to navigate autonomously in all conditions. Thermal or Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR) cameras can detect and classify pedestrians in dark or foggy conditions and are immune to sun glare. Hence, they provide better situational awareness for more robust, reliable, and secure Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) and AV systems.
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In terms of geography, the market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World.
North America Infrared Imaging Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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North America dominated the market share and was valued at USD 2.64 billion in 2022. This growth is attributed to the presence of major OEMs and rising mergers & acquisitions in the region. For instance, in May 2021, Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, a U.S.-based company that specialized in digital imaging products and instrumentation, completed the acquisition of FLIR Systems for a deal amount of USD 8.2 billion. This acquisition further increased Teledyne’s capabilities and geographical presence in the North American market. FLIR Systems, Inc. is a U.S.-based company that specializes in the design and production of thermal imaging cameras and sensors.
Europe captured the second-largest market share in the base year. The regional market’s growth is due to the increasing demand for infrared thermography from the region’s healthcare industry. For instance, in March 2023, the Government Office for Technology Transfer (GOTT) U.K. funded the development of a revolutionary thermal imaging technology developed by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). A team at NPL, the U.K.'s national metrology laboratory, developed a new thermal imaging technique that can accurately capture the temperature of the entire surface of the foot in seconds. This reduces the risk of doctors missing thousands of potential ulcers each year. It may have further uses in other medical applications.
Asia Pacific held a significant market share in the base year and is expected to be the fastest growing region during the forecast period. The rapid growth of this region is owing to the large-scale industrialization and fast-paced infrastructure development. China, Japan, India, and South Korea have increased the demand for infrared cameras in their manufacturing and construction sectors. Additionally, the region's growing defense and security expenditures have further boosted the market growth.
The Rest of the World, which includes the Middle East & Africa is anticipated to witness moderate growth in the global market during the forecast period. The growing demand for monitoring and inspection technologies from the oil & gas sector is predicted to propel the market growth.
Product Innovations, Technological Advancements, and Mergers & Acquisitions are Key Focus of Leading Players
The global market share is consolidated with key players, such as Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, Fluke Corporation, Leonardo DRS, Inc., L3 Harris Technologies, Inc., Zhejiang Dali Technology Ltd., and others. These major players are focusing on product innovations, technological advancements, and mergers & acquisitions to increase their market share.
For instance, in May 2023, IRay Technology Co., Ltd. (InfiRay), a China-based company that manufactures optical components, showcased its innovative technologies. These technologies include professional infrared and thermal imaging solutions for UAVs, unmanned systems, and robotics. The company's handheld thermal imaging camera product line launched several new devices with different resolutions and fields of view to meet the diverse applications and needs of different industries.
An Infographic Representation of Infrared Imaging Market
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The report provides a detailed analysis of the industry. It studies all major aspects such as R&D capabilities and optimization of the operating services. Moreover, it offers insights into the market forecast, trends, regional analysis, Porter’s five forces analysis, competitive landscape of various companies profiled, and market competition, and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, the report mainly focuses on several factors that have contributed to the global market’s growth in recent years.
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CAGR of 6.1% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion)
By Technology, Wavelength, Application, Vertical, and Geography
As per the Fortune Business Insights study, the market size was valued at USD 6.85 billion in 2022.
The market is likely to record a CAGR of 6.1% over the forecast period of 2023-2030.
Aerospace & defense to dominate market due to increasing use of infrared thermography for non-destructive testing.
The market size in North America stood at USD 2.64 billion in 2022.
Rising demand for infrared thermography from the defense sector and increasing adoption of IR imaging in agriculture and precision farming are expected to drive the market.
Some of the top players in the market are Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, Fluke Corporation, Leonardo DRS, Inc., L3 Harris Technologies, Inc., Zhejiang Dali Technology Ltd., and others.
The U.S. dominated the market in 2022.
High initial investment and research & development costs are expected to hamper the market.
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