Affordable thermal imaging technology inching closer to mainstream users


Flir Systems, a leading manufacturer of thermal Imaging cameras, has recently introduced an affordable iPhone accessory that enables the smartphone’s display to capture and show the glowing heat signatures of people, animals and various objects.

Affordable thermal imaging technology inching closer to mainstream users
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Thermal imaging measures the intensity of infra-red light given off as objects generate heat. It works differently from most “night-vision” goggles, where green images are generated by amplifying small amounts of visible light. Thermal imaging cameras require no light at all.

Weighing just 3.9 ounce, the award-winning FLIR ONE is a camera-equipped lightweight accessory that looks a bit like a standard protective case for a smartphone, allowing users to wrap it around an iPhone 5 or 5s and point it at objects while viewing images on the display.

When paired with its iPhone app, FLIR ONE displays live infrared imagery that allows the user to see the world from a thermal perspective, enabling a host of practical solutions for consumers — from detecting energy leaks at home to seeing in complete darkness.

“FLIR is dedicated to developing and delivering technologies that provide users with a sixth sense,” said Andy Teich, President and CEO of FLIR Systems.

“Based on technology that was formerly reserved for the military, FLIR ONE is the first in a new generation of affordable thermal imaging devices designed to inspire imaginative and innovative uses by consumers. This represents a revolutionary step forward for both FLIR Systems and thermal imaging.”

FLIR ONE, which houses its own rechargeable battery for up to two hours of continuous use, sells for $376 and is available at

Meanwhile, a group of industry veterans at start-up Seek Thermal plan to begin selling an add-on camera for smartphones for about $US100 less.

As opposed to FLIR ONE, which wraps around a smartphone, Seek Thermal will sell a small thermal-camera module that plugs into the bottom of a smartphone.

The technology features a series of improvements in sensors and manufacturing techniques that ultimately could make thermal imaging a built-in feature of many consumer products, The Australian reports.

The device is equipped to generate colour thermal images that can be contrasted with conventional images using a split-screen feature. The company is collaborating with Raytheon and chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor.

Raytheon plans to transfer the results of its collaboration with Freescale into military and commercial products. Freescale, which will manufacture the sensor chips, may focus on automotive applications.