[Long explanation] Thermal vision in the game is way too far from the reality

Hey, guys. Thermal remote sensing or thermal imaging is the topic of my dissertation, so I have plenty to say to this topic. I also have ties with European Space Agency and I work with drones, airborne imaging and satellite technologies in general. I realize it is only a game and you should relalize that modelling thermal emissivity from surface objects is something we are not able to predict at all, BUT Ubisoft here is doing some stuff I consider really dumb. I don't want this topic to be long, so let's go for my top four mistakes with thermal vision:

1) GLASS AND WATER ACT LIKE A MIRROR – In other word – you CANNOT see through glass or water with a thermal camera. It is kinda logical – you are measuring temperature of the glass, not stuff behind it (the physics behind it is a little more complicated, though). So we have this picture here showing how the mistake works, those people are in the car behind a glass and are visible. Now this is a picture of me using a FLIR E60 handheld camera we have at work for ground measuring. The picture clearly shows what I've just told you – it is a side window of a parked car and you can clearly see myself (kinda distorted though 😀 ) and a tree behind me. You cannot see what is in the car.

2) THEY GOT CLOTHING RIGHT BUT NOT RIGHT ENOUGH – So, yes, clothing that is not tight has tremendeous effect on the measured temperature because it is more affected by the aerial temperature than the body temperature, BUT this does not affect ALL the clothing. I have a picture from work where we've been testing this and I will update the picture on Monday but just to tell you – yes, the helmet has low temperature, not the body temperature, also the glasses or the shemag act this way but for example ski mask, which is tightly attached to the body is affected by the body temperature. And now another blast – it is actually affected by how much sweating you are, so if you are running in a desert of Bolivia, your clothes will still be visible. It also makes sense if you think about it. When police is looking for a missing person using thermal vision, they wouldn't find anybody who has ski-mask and hoodie, but luckily for us – it is not that ideal. 😉

3) SURFACE TEMPERATURES A.K.A "R U KIDDIN MEH? – This is quite complicated issue because most of the cameras use dynamic thermal scale, BUT the surface temperatures in the game are SO WRONG. In the game there seems to be two temperatures only – human body, lights, cars, generator VS. EVERYTHING ELSE. I don't know where to start… like… what about a fricking SNOW or a city which is diverse as hell. But you know what bothers me the most? ROADS and DIRT/SAND. I come from a middle-european country. We did airborne thermal imaging and the roads and bare soil during summer time (10th July) during day time (14:00) have between 40-60°C. That is almost twice as much as the human body in some cases. I expect, that the temperature of the roads and dirt flat can reach above 60°C in Bolivia, yet on thermal vision it is BLUUUUUE and your body is warmer.

4) THERMAL CAMERA USED IN THE FIELD IS NEVER FOR BOTH EYES – Except it is, but only as a binoculars. If you look at the manufacturer FLIR, you can see that all of those devices are for one eye only so your second eye can see clearly. This is because thermal infrared band is tricky and you can easily lose track of where you are and what is what. The only device for both eyes are binoculars because you are supposed to stop and look through them, then put them away. There is a system called MSX or MDX or sth like that which combines edges from visual image with thermal information from thermal camera, but it has no auto-focus, so it is not good for practical use.

There is one more thing as a bonus from me: If you look with the thermal camera directly in the Sun, you will destroy it and you will se NOTHING because most of the thermal cameras can work only up to 1000°C and the massive solar irradiation destroys the micro-bolometres measuring the temperature. It is based on heating up a small metal plate and then measuring changes in electrical conductivity, but looking in the Sun you basically melts it.

So this is it. This is end of your Thermal Imaging training, Ghosts, now go there and destroy some cartel. 😉 If you have any questions I will be happy to answer them, also regarding drone or satellite technology. I will upload remaining pictures on Monday and… see you in the game!

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