The effectiveness of infrared imagery in poor visibility situations is well established and the range of applications is expanding as we enter a new era of inexpensive thermal imagers for mobile phones. However there is a problem in that the counterintuitive reflectance characteristics of various common scene elements can cause slowed reaction times and impaired situational awareness−consequences that can be especially detrimental in emergency situations. While multiband infrared sensors can be used, they are inherently more costly. Here we propose a technique for adding a daylight color appearance to single band infrared images, using the normally overlooked property of local image texture. The simple method described here is illustrated with colorized images from the visible red and long wave infrared bands. Our colorizing process not only imparts a natural daylight appearance to infrared images but also enhances the contrast and visibility of otherwise obscure detail. We anticipate that this colorizing method will lead to a better user experience, faster reaction times and improved situational awareness for a growing community of infrared camera users. A natural extension of our process could expand upon its texture discerning feature by adding specialized filters for discriminating specific targets.
"Daylight coloring for monochrome infrared imagery", Proc. SPIE 9451, Infrared Technology and Applications XLI, 94510I (26 May 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2177097; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2177097