Real-Time Monitoring of Occupants’ Thermal Comfort through Infrared Imaging: A Preliminary Study
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Thermally comfortable indoor environments are of great importance, as modern lifestyles often require people to spend more than 20 h per day indoors. Since most of the thermal comfort models use a variety of different environmental and personal factors that need to be measured or estimated, real-time and continuous assessment of thermal comfort is often not practically feasible. This work presents a cheap and non-invasive approach based on infrared imaging for monitoring the occupants’ thermal sensation and comfort in real time. Thanks to a mechatronic device developed by the authors, the imaging is performed on the forehead skin, selected because it is always exposed to the environment and, thus, facilitating the monitoring activity in a non-invasive manner. Tests have been performed in controlled conditions on ten subjects to assess the hypothesis that the forehead temperature is correlated with subjects’ thermal sensation. This allows the exploitation of this quantity as a base for a simple monitoring of thermal comfort, which could later be tuned with an extensive experimental campaign.