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Tracing a laser pointer with IR camera

  1. Jul 26, 2014 #1

    a very basic question that probably has a simple answer: would it be possible to trace a laser moving over a generic surface such as a wooden floor with an IR camera?

    The idea would be to calculate relative movement based on that...

    If I'm not clear enough feel free to follow up with a question!


    edit: maybe I should add that it would be preferred if the laser was in the invisible part of the spectrum and also safe for use around humans.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Do you have a laser that operates at a frequency that your camera responds too? If so, the camera will "see" the light scattered from the floor in the same way that your eyes see the visible light from a laser pointer being used as a pointer.
  4. Jul 26, 2014 #3

    thanks for the quick answer! That's what I thought would happen! I was wondering, however, if there was any way to predict* for how long you could pick up the trace from the laser after it hit the ground - which would be essential for calculating relative movement...

    *based on material properties
  5. Jul 26, 2014 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    How long? Zero, near as no never mind. The only way you could detect observe points where the laser had been shining but no longer is would be if the laser light heated the surface sufficiently for it to continue to glow in the infra-red after the laser had moved on.

    A laser that powerful isn't a tracking device, it's a cutting tool or a weapon.
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