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Thermal imaging cameras, or infrared cameras, are unlike the cameras found in your smartphone. A typical camera observes the wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum that bounce off objects and hit receivers in the camera. The camera will then turn that light into an image. 

Thermal cameras, on the other hand, ignore visible light and seek out something else called infrared. Infrared is a type of low-frequency electromagnetic radiation that is felt as heat, according to the University of Calgary (opens in new tab). This is because infrared radiation excites molecules, causing them to move around and vibrate, causing a temperature rise.

How infrared cameras work

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