Real-time observations can provide important information needed to understand materials behavior, as these techniques can provide valuable insights on mechanisms, free from artifacts induced from conventional experimental techniques. Emerging optical imaging techniques are comparatively inexpensive methods that allow such observations. Methods, such as confocal laser microscopy and thermal imaging furnace, can be enhanced with capabilities that enable heating and cooling, controlled atmospheres, and application of stresses and can be used to generate real-time thermodynamic and kinetic data needed to study a variety of materials and processes, such as phase transformation, oxidation, corrosion, etc. In-vivo fluorescence methods can be used to provide essential information on the behavior of biomaterials. The significance of the real time optical imaging techniques is discussed to help advance the current methodologies and technologies.