Thermography is benefiting from COVID-19 mitigation attempts, pushing the thermal camera industry to $6.6B in 2020.
This report is the complete analysis of the preliminary version done in May 2020. In this version the thermal imager and detector volumes, market value, market shares and associated forecasts are given. A more thorough overview of the COVID-19 effect on the thermal imaging market is presented together with Yole Développement (Yole) view for the future market and technology trends.
- The report provides market data on key thermal detectors and thermal imagers, including market metrics and dynamics:
- Thermal detectors and thermal imagers (and cameras) in units and revenue, split by market segment
- Historical market data on 2018 and 2019, educated estimates for 2020 and market forecasts up to 2025
- Market shares for thermal detectors and imagers
- It offers key technical insights into future technology trends and challenges
- It delivers an in-depth understanding of the thermal imaging value chain, infrastructure, and players:
- Who are the industrial thermal sensor players and where are they positioned?
- More generally, which are the key players to watch and how will the thermal detection/imaging market evolve?
- It also presents an in-depth analysis of thermal detectors and imagers for defense and commercial applications, including extra color on EBT/EST screening
The COVID-19 outbreak has changed our world and will do so for years to come. Given the critical need for thermal detection and imaging systems to stem the spread of the virus by detecting the fever, this market has flourished. In this report, Yole Développement’s analysts are trying to describe the global market, the effect of COVID-19, the changes that resulted and the possibilities for the future of this market.
Table of Contents
Report scope 6
Applications covered in this report 8
What we got right/what we got wrong 13
What changed between may and october 2020 15
3-Page summary 17
Executive summary 20
Market forecasts 62
Market trends 82
Supply chain 123
Technology trends 145
About Yole Développement 188
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FEVER DETECTION THERMAL CAMERAS
2020 was the year that turned the world upside down. As fears about COVID-19 erupted, various organizations rushed to get thermal cameras to monitor people’s temperatures and detect possible fevers, one of the main symptoms. This made elevated body or surface temperature (EBT or EST) thermography surge unsustainably. Traditionally it was a very small market, created in 2002-2003 due to the SARS epidemic. It was sustained at very low volumes thereafter, only to get slightly boosted in years when other epidemics occurred, like H1N1 flu, Ebola and Zika.
Traditional thermography applications, such as building inspection and maintenance, suffered slightly in 2020. But the EST segment will compensate generously for this fall. The current situation will create a significant EST subsegment in the thermography market, which will continue to grow in the years to come. This could stem from the eventual realization of end-users that thermal camera systems can generally come in handy at various sites for isolating sick febrile people, therefore decreasing crosscontamination. For example, people might have the simple flu or other infectious and non-infectious disease that causes a fever. For businesses this is very much needed, for example in minimizing sick leave.
However, one wonders what will happen next year and after that. Could this blip in 2020 go back to normal? It is likely, since demand has already drastically slowed down, as lots of sites are now equipped. Nevertheless, due to the imminent second and third waves and with no vaccine available, a possibility exists that the interest in this application will surge again. Finally, let’s not forget that thermal imaging includes other interesting applications such as surveillance, firefighting, personal vision systems (PVS) and drones, which show promising growth. Together they will bring the total market value close to $7.5B by 2025, at a 8% compound annual growth rate from 2019 to 2025 (CAGR2019-2025).
THE MANUFACTURER LANDSCAPE IS TRANSFORMING
The current surge of EST applications has transformed the thermal imager manufacturer landscape, at least for thermography. In 2019, US and EU players (FLIR, Lynred, SEEK) were leading this market. Enter COVID-19, and Chinese players (Guide IR, Hikvision, Iray) have turned the tables, surpassing the market leaders, at least in shipments. They rapidly addressed the great domestic demand for thermal imaging systems. Having acquired in the past few years technical competences in thermal imager manufacturing, these Chinese players ramped up their domestic production during the last 2 years, and the current situation has fueled their path to becoming stars. As the epidemic spread across geographies to the west, the rest of the companies reaped the benefits from this hype. But western countries were slower in adopting thermal cameras en masse, due to privacy concerns.
In general, thermal imager production lines are not like other integrated circuit (IC) production lines that work at more than 90% of production capacity. Therefore, for some companies there was not a particular need for investment, besides some increase in consumables and possibly workforce. But for some Chinese companies, it is highly possible that the government has supported their production ramp ups. Moreover, this situation could push Chinese companies to chase investments for future growth, which could rapidly develop the market in the future.
But what could happen next year? Chinese manufacturers have enormous production capacity which risks being left unused. We could be spectators to huge changes in strategy where they could:
- Revert back to applications such as traditional thermography and surveillance. For example, companies with existing strong sales channels in traditional non-thermal surveillance can push forward thermal imaging technology. This could potentially lead to big price wars.
- Find new growth drivers, for example from big markets that are still left untapped. These include consumer applications such as smartphones and smart homes, industrial applications including smart buildings. They could enter the Internet of Things (IoT) world by leveraging megatrends such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) in an ultra-connected, intelligent world.
At this point, many uncertainties exist. One thing is sure: exciting times lie ahead for the thermal imaging industry.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE SMALL THERMAL DETECTOR MARKET?
Beyond thermal imagers, small thermal detectors with no imaging functions comprise another interesting market. These thermal detectors are used for basic applications such as motion detection in security and energy savings in lighting and appliances, a stable market that grows slowly. Spectroscopy is another small and stable application, while gas and fire detection is getting more attention from smart home use-cases, growing faster than the rest.
Smart buildings have got a lot of attention in recent years due to the increased functionality that bigger thermal detector arrays could offer. Comprising sizes of 8×8 pixels up to 64×64 pixels, these could be used in heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), people counting and other use-cases for energy conservation and savings in buildings and infrastructure occupation management. The market is still growing, albeit slower than before and has not surged as expected. A limiting factor is the narrow Field of View (FoV) optics as well as price, with manufacturers facing strong average selling price (ASP) pressure from integrators.
Temperature measurement, while previously being a slowly growing market, has some opportunities for more thriving evolution due to the traction it gained from COVID-19. At the low-end, single, dual or quad element thermal detectors were used in temperature guns and contactless thermometers. At the high-end, thermal detector arrays are increasingly used in tablets and other access control terminals for human temperature measurement, offering cheaper solutions than thermal cameras.
Finally, we saw a glimpse toward consumerization of thermal detectors by their integration in Honor Play 4 Pro smartphones. The sought-after smartphone application that Yole envisioned in the past is now a reality. However, is it a one-off opportunity or will it create a trend? For sure, various traditional camera module makers are becoming interested, but the use-case is still not clear. This particular human temperature measurement use-case is a very demanding one, with medical-grade thermal detectors needed and one must make sure that it is following established protocols and functioning reliably in all conditions. The future of this application, while always exciting, still remains uncertain.
3M Scott, Adasky, Aeronvironment, Amphenol, Armasight, Aselsan, Athena, Avio, Avigilon, Axis Communications, BAE, Bosch, Bullard, Caterpillar, Convergint, Cosinuss, Cypress, Dahua, Denso, Device-ALab, DeWalt, Dexter, Dias Infrared, DJI, Dräger, Elbit Systems, Empatica, Excelitas (QiOptiq), FaceSense, Fisba, FLIR, Fluke, Flyability, Flybotix, Foresight, Fujitsu, Global Sensor Technology (GST), GreenWaves, GuideIR, Guide Sensmart, GWIC, Hamamatsu, Hanhwa Techwin, Heimann Sensors, Hensoldt, Hikvision, i3systems, Impossible, InfiRay, Infrared Cameras Inc, Infratec, InVid, IR&D, iRay Technologies, Irisys, Irlynx, Jenoptik, Kodenshi, Kyocera, L3 Harris, Leica, Leonardo DRS, LG Innotek, Lockheed Martin, Lucint, Lynred, Magnity, Melexis, Micasense, Mikrosens, Mitsubishi Electric, MKS Ophir, Mobotix, MSA, Murata, NEC, Nextvision, Nicera, Northrop Grumman, NXP, Omron, ON Semi, Opgal, OptoTherm, Orisystech, Parrot, Panasonic, Pyreos, Rafael ADS, Raytheon, Raytron, Safran, SATIR, SCD, Schneider Electric, Schott, Seek Thermal, Semitec, Senba Sensing Tec, Sierra Olympic, Sunell, Sunshine Technologies, Tamron, TE Connectivity, Teledyne Dalsa, Testo, Tetracam, Thales, Thermoteknix, TowerJazz, Umicore, Veoneer, Vital, Wahl, Wintec, Workswell, Xperi, Zeiss, Zhejiang Dali and many more…
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