Uzi Ibrahim of 4C Marketplace sits down with Craig O’Neill of FLIR Systems Inc., to discuss exciting product innovations, upcoming projects and events, and FLIR Systems’ giveaway of a GF77 Infrared camera at the 2021 4C Conference.
Read a snippet of the interview blow, or listen to the full podcast here.
4C Marketplace Podcast
January 8, 2021
Episode: Craig O’Neill
Uzi Ibrahim: Hello everyone – welcome to another episode of the 4C marketplace podcast where we interview product reps and experts from all over the environmental and emissions reduction industry to chat about products and companies and stories from this space. Our guest today is Craig O’Neill from FLIR. We are super excited to have Craig today to discuss some of the different projects we’re doing with FLIR, some of the new products they have in the mix, as well as talk about some special events we’ve got coming up at the 4C conference this year. So that further ado, I want to introduce Craig. Craig – how are you doing today?
Craig O’Neill: I’m doing well. Thank you very much for having me on – excited to talk a little bit about FLIR and some of our solutions.
Uzi Ibrahim: Awesome. Just for the listeners effication here – we are talking about CES and you coming back to CES. I think it’d be interesting to chat about that for a little bit as well, in terms of how your product fits in that realm of automotive and transportation before we segue into oil and gas.
Craig O’Neill: CES is a very broad show. I mean, you have everything from kitchen appliances that have new technologies, to helicopters that are in the same hallway. The exhibit hall that we were in was specifically for our automotive solution, or, the automotive and transportation hall where you had the largest players in the automotive industry – from Audi and Mercedes to Amazon’s truck that they are going to launch later this year. So it was interesting to be there. At the FLIR booth, we did have our fully autonomous vehicle and it was really unique – tried to talk about that technology with a number of people and even some of those auto manufacturers there about how infrared, in an autonomous vehicle, gives people a much better consistency of identifying a human or identifying an object as being a human, in which you need to stop.
So in one of the studies that was done recently by a third party – the other technologies like LIDAR and technologies for autonomous vehicles, had around a 20-30% success rate at identifying a pedestrian. Whereas, the FLIR infrared autonomous technology in our autonomous vehicle had a 100% success rate at identifying pedestrians and stopping the vehicle. Now infrared doesn’t work by itself in that case. We do have LIDAR built on to the vehicle in which we’re using that technology to diagnose how far that identified individual is, so that the vehicle knows how fast to stop and at what rate it needs to either stop or swerve. So we’re proud of that technology. But the FLIR booth did have a wide variety of technology. One of the themes of the CES show this year, outside of just the autonomous vehicle hall, was smart cities, which autonomous vehicles very much play into that. If you’re going to have a large metroplex, it has a lot of transportation needs. Autonomous vehicles will be a player in that in the years to come.
Uzi Ibrahim: A lot of UAN, UTMs and also the 5g and kind of low latency networks – all of that kind of plays together to meet the transportation needs, correct?
Craig O’Neill: Yeah, it does. And you know, what was great for FLIR because of our diversity in our product – oil and gas. That meets those needs because I was asked to speak about how optical gas imaging plays into a smart city. This is an industry that’s not really considered consumer electronic. But I talked a little bit about how these cities are growing into areas where industry is. And a lot of the times, industries need to get inside these communities to be able to access the natural resources to run that community itself. So it’s an exciting show. It’s a fun show. It’s a lot of fun to see some of the unique electronics they have at a show like that.
Uzi Ibrahim: I’m glad I asked that question because it really sets the context – we know FLIR in the emissions reduction industry for your GF cameras and basically for being an industry standard for optical gas imaging – detecting gases, but we always lose context of that. You guys have a wide range of customers and serve a lot of different markets. Would you be able to give us a once over of where FLIR began and how it really grew?
Craig O’Neill: Yeah, so a lot of people may not know that FLIR as a company began over 50 years ago. So we really have over 50 years of experience in infrared imaging. So the foundation of FLIR as an organization, through acquisitions and mergers over the years, was with a company out of Sweden actually. The company was called AGA and they made the first infrared line scanner. Times have changed – that took what most people may think of as a large scale copier. Well, that was a processor that you had to carry around that’s built into a microchip now. And the camera was about a foot in diameter, and that was the lens. So those were, you know, times have changed and progressed many, many times over the years. I’ve seen decade after decade of incremental and unique changes towards the market as a whole or the world as a whole in various industries like the old oil and gas. What we’ve really seen as a company in the last 8-10 years, is we’ve really transitioned away from being an infrared only company, to a full-scale sensor manufacturer. We make manufacturing sensors for infrared as a general, but only 40% of FLIR’s revenue comes from infrared technologies. A lot of people may not know that, but if you think about that, greater than half comes from some various technologies – like Ray Marine is a division of FLIR that makes radars, and it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of FLIR. There’s a company called trafficon that we purchased years ago that helps that visual traffic and helps that connected city to know what’s going on with those traffic lights that we all see, as well as our detection team, which is chemical, biological, radioactive nuclear and explosive. And so those various technologies that we have that have nothing to do with infrared have become the new foundation of our organization.
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