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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
February 20, 2017


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FLIR Systems: profile of a leader in thermal imaging

A profile of FLIR Systems, the world’s largest commercial company specialising in the design and production of thermal imaging cameras, components and imaging sensors.

FLIR Systems: a history

US-based FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) Systems was first established in 1978 as a developer of thermal imaging systems for airborne applications. It has since grown into a US$1.6bn company, expanding its operations through a series of acquisitions which included the industrial infrared imaging group from Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1990, Agema Infrared System in 1997 and Inframetrics (US$48m) in 1998.

After a period of financial irregularities that led the company to restate its accounts for the years 1995 to 2000 FLIR was back on the acquisition trail, buying portable meter specialist Extech Instruments for US$40m and sensor network firm Ifara Tecnologias (US$11m) in 2007. Further expansion included buyouts of security hardware manufacturer Directed Perception ($20m, 2009), Raymarine (US$180m, 2010), video surveillance specialist DVTEL (US$92m, 2015) and nano-drone manufacturer Prox Dynamics ($134m, 2016).

Market position

FLIR is dominant market force, employing over 3,000 people worldwide with manufacturing and research and development facilities in the US, Israel, Estonia, Sweden and the UK. Revenue of US$1.6bn in FY15 was up 6% year on year with net income growing 17% to US$242m. Target markets for FLIR products are law enforcement, defence and aerospace, marine, emergency services, commercial surveillance, utilities, research and development, test and measurement, transportation and veterinary.

The company began to supply imaging technology to BMW in 2005, and won a seven year contract worth US$250m to install cameras in US Army helicopters in the same year. Other customers include CAN insurance which uses infrared thermography to assess the safety of in-building electrical systems.

FLIR also manufactures components for integration into third-party OEM products. Whilst it does work with a small number of preferred distributors, particularly for IP surveillance cameras, most of its engagements are handled direct by its own sales teams.

Latest technologies

FLIR remains at the cutting edge of security and surveillance technology with a huge product and component portfolio. Its recent focus has centred on producing high-resolution thermal optics for the tactical and outdoor enthusiast markets, including thermal handhelds, helmet/goggle/rifle-mounted weapon sights and clip-ons.

The company also produces optical gas imaging (OGI) cameras designed to detect potentially hazardous atmospheres such as methane emissions for the oil and gas industry and emergency services (firefighting). Pocket-sized thermal cameras are aimed at real estate professionals, contractors and other tradesmen involved in building inspection and diagnostics.

High-definition (HD) capable drone cameras represent a big market opportunity for FLIR. It is collaborating with DJI Innovations to combine its thermal imaging cameras with DJI’s micro-gimbal aerial cinematography components into small drones intended for use in the search and rescue, agriculture and wildlife protection applications.

Consumer-focussed low cost thermal camera attachments for smartphones are another evolving market that FLIR is seeking to capitalise on. 2016 saw the company partner Bullitt Group, a maker of ruggedised smartphones for industrial environments, to integrate thermal imaging directly into its Android=based Cat S60 device hardware.

FLIR Systems articles

Benchmark Magazine Innovation Awards 2019: winners announced

The publication rigorously tests hardware and software under a range of conditions to see how it meets the needs of today’s security teams.

FLIR Systems acquires developer behind world’s smallest drone: Prox Dynamics

FLIR, a world leader in the development of thermal imaging infrared cameras, has paid around $134 million in cash for the Norway-based company.

RAID surveillance storage is no longer fit for purpose: Veracity CEO pitches COLDSTORE

In this Q&A Veracity CEO Alastair McLeod says that COLDSTORE, the company’s sequential data storage system, offers a better solution to the ever-growing storage needs of modern CCTV systems.

“Video Analytics has Been Over-sold and Underused”: The Future of Video Surveillance Panel Debate

Speakers from Pelco, Axis Communications and ATEC Fire & Security also discussed the cyber threat and the internet of things at IFSEC 2016.

First-Ever Smartphone With Integrated Thermal Camera: The Cat S60 Explained in 45 seconds

Roy Taylor of the Bullitt Group pitches the Cat S60 ruggedized smartphone with built-in thermal camera in just 45 seconds.

World First at FIREX: Smartphone with Integrated Thermal Camera – the Cat S60

Visitors to FIREX 2016 can check out the world’s first smartphone with an integrated thermal camera from FLIR Commercial Systems.

FLIR Systems Acquires DVTEL for $92m

The merger will create an end-to-end surveillance provider capable of serving a wide range of markets, including consumer, small and medium business, enterprise and infrastructure-level markets.

FLIR Systems introduces its next generation NVR line-up with FLIR Cloud connectivity

Simply download the free app for iOS / Android, scan the QR code on the NVR, enter a password and instantly view live video! There is no complex router configuration as the cloud-based service creates a secure handshake between the NVR and the mobile device.

FLIR Systems launches handheld BHS Series thermal imaging cameras

BHS-Series are shock-resistant thermal imaging cameras. They produce a crisp image in the darkest of nights, FLIR says. With the […]

CCTV Center and FLIR Systems deliver successful thermal imaging seminar

Attendees included key security consultants and a range of leading multi-national, national and independent security integrators. A short presentation was […]

CCTV Center supports FLIR thermal imaging products and technology

The company has invested heavily in extensive staff training in thermal imaging technology, products, control software and system design. Tim […]

FLIR Systems launches network-ready thermal imaging cameras

Thermal imaging cameras are now becoming more and more popular for security and surveillance applications and, that being the case, […]

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Discover the latest developments in the rapidly-evolving video surveillance sector by downloading the 2023 Video Surveillance Report. Over 500 responses to our survey, which come from integrators to consultants and heads of security, inform our analysis of the latest trends including AI, the state of the video surveillance market, uptake of the cloud, and the wider economic and geopolitical events impacting the sector!

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