The vast majority of vibration analysis is performed using accelerometers that gather critical data for evaluating the condition of electromechanical equipment. Vibration data is often vital for troubleshooting and necessary for predictive maintenance. However, while standard vibration analysis using accelerometers is still vital, motion amplification technology (MAT) is gaining in popularity.

What is Motion Amplification?

Motion amplification is a non-contact vibration analysis method that uses digital video data to amplify the motion of objects and systems. This technology allows users to see motion that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye. However, that’s not all it does: each pixel in the image essentially acts as an accelerometer, providing extensive data about the movement of thousands of points. When motion amplification is used, each pixel that makes up a video frame is tracked and displacement data is collected along with the video. That displacement data is then processed and turned into an exhaustive set of vibration data.

How Does Motion Amplification Work?

The IRIS-M, IRIS-MX, and IRIS-CM are the leading products in motion amplification technology.  This system combines a high-speed camera (such as those used to capture slow motion video) with proprietary software that can process the position data of every pixel in an image to amplify the motion. This means movement that can’t be detected by the naked eye is suddenly quite obvious while viewing the amplified video. Essentially every pixel in the image acts as its own sensor, measuring data related to deflection, movement, and displacement. And these millions of data points are retrieved in a fraction of a second for each frame captured by the high-speed camera (up to 1,400 frames per second). And these measurements are highly accurate.

The high-speed camera and its tripod are placed in position to record the equipment under inspection. Physical dampers are used to prevent the transmission of vibration from surrounding equipment to the camera. Lighting is also configured to capture the clearest video possible and measures are taken to prevent people from walking into the line of sight of the camera and from casting shadows that could adversely affect the data. While most shots consist of 5 to 15 seconds of video, it will take much longer than that to configure the lighting and angle to obtain the best results. 

Benefits of Motion Amplification

There are several benefits to motion amplification when compared to more traditional means of vibration analysis.

More Effective at Capturing Complex Behavior

For situations of any complexity, thorough vibration analysis can require multiple accelerometers to capture the necessary data and a data acquisition system to coordinate the capture. As mentioned earlier, this is not a problem with motion amplification because the pixels within the digital video images serve as accelerometers. There is no need to configure a data acquisition system and physically install accelerometers.

No Need for Multiple Sensors

Another issue with vibration analysis using accelerometers lies in the fact that analysts may not know more accelerometers are needed, or a better placement of the accelerometer would lead to better data, until the data has been gathered and processing starts. Again, with motion amplification, this is not an issue because the pixels themselves serve as virtual accelerometers. In addition, motion amplification is better than traditional vibration analysis when it comes to monitoring low frequency vibration.

Involves Little to No Downtime

Installing accelerometers can be time-consuming when done correctly, and the equipment involved generally needs to be shut down before installation can take place. This means downtime, which is always costly. Remember that motion amplification is a non-contact method, which means nothing is attached to the equipment: the equipment does not need to be shut down and restarted to gather vibration data.

A Safer Process

There can also be safety issues for the technician installing sensors for a traditional vibration analysis. Moving parts, high temperatures, and similar problems can be a problem when installing any type of sensors on equipment. However, as a non-contact method, motion amplification involves little to no direct interaction with the equipment and this means significantly reducing safety issues.

Technical Results Are Easier to Share

In traditional vibration analysis, graphs and charts are produced that are not readily interpreted except by an expert. There can be a significant gap between what the vibration analyst sees and what they report to the people that must make decisions based on that data. With the amplified footage captured and processed by motion amplification technology, that gap is significantly narrowed. 

For example, it is one thing to point at a spectrum analysis graph and say that this peak indicates, perhaps, a base that is not properly clamped or fastened. Showing a video of the base moving, however, makes the case much more easily.  While an expert is still needed to process the data and analyze the results, those results are much easier for everyone to understand.

Far More Data and Information

While accelerometers only capture data for the point where they are attached, motion amplification works with millions of data points. And because there are millions of data points, that means more than just vibration can be captured. The IRIS-M, in addition to motion amplified videos, also provides motion vectors, motion maps, relative phase calculations, rotating-shaft specific results, and, of course, vibration analysis including classical spectrum and waveform graphs.

What Kind of Faults Can Motion Amplification Detect?

There are a host of faults that can be detected using motion amplification, and many of them don’t even involve vibration. They include piping vibration, rotating equipment imbalance, misalignment, engine and compressor motion, soft foot, issue with structural stiffness, ineffective damping, torsion, flex, bending, structural cracking, and excessive transient loadings, just to name a few.


Motion amplification is a major game changer in vibration analysis, offering multiple benefits over more traditional approaches to vibration measurement. It is a powerful tool for condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, and troubleshooting that adds easy-to-understand visualization to traditional vibration analysis. It will lead to enhanced reliability and productivity when used correctly, and here at Hi-Speed Industrial Service we can put motion amplification to work for you!