andrew wrote:I used a similar device at university to establish surface temperatures for calculating heat loss rates. If I remember rightly, a laser is used as a guide, but this was 7 years ago and I have not used (or seen) one since.
Yep, you're bang on the money there. NORMALLY the visible light laser is used as a guide to where the temperature is being measured, just as ultrasonic distance measuring devices (which are painfully innacurate, but give you an idea) have a laser pointer built into them for the same reason.
In both cases however, I believe it would actually be possible to use the visible laser light to measure the surface much more accurately, but in the case of temperature, it would need to be calibrated for the surface being measured, and would likely be easily thrown out by surface damage causing refraction.
Similarly a laser distance measuring device could
be far more accurate than an ultrasonic one but in order to work, it would have to contain extremely fast processing in order to be able to accurately measure the time taken from a pulse leaving the laser, to bounce off the target and make it back into a sensor (think police speed guns), and would also only be able to work off relatively reflective targets (think license plates which are in the civilised world backed with IR retroreflective surface).
For all the help the additional accuracy would be, it's probably a case of "good enough". I mean you wouldn't fill up your watering can with a 5ml pipette for accuracy now would you?
Presumably, this is similar hardware to what McLaren had embedded in their mirrors during last year's pre-season testing, although no sight laser would be needed because they could be mounted to always be pointing at the tyres. Clever stuff I suppose!
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