Thermal imaging on your smartphone gets serious


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Images: FLIR Systems

Want to turn your smartphone or tablet into a see-in-the-dark thermal imaging camera? Now you have more options, as FLIR Systems, the leading maker of infrared sensors and thermal imaging systems, has announced the availability of its third-generation FLIR ONE camera and added a higher-resolution FLIR ONE Pro model.

Both devices are small (67mm x 34mm x 14mm) and weigh less than 40g (34.5g for the FLIR ONE, 36.5g for the Pro model). The iOS versions attach to your iPhone or iPad via a Lightning connector, while the Android version uses USB-C (a Micro-USB variant will follow later in Q3 2017). The FLIR cameras have their own battery, with charging via a USB-C port.

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The FLIR ONE cameras attach to a smartphone or tablet’s Lightning or USB-C connectors (Micro-USB will be available in Q3). The camera’s battery will last for around 45 minutes of continuous operation.


Images: FLIR Systems

A key enhancement in the latest-generation products is an adjustable OneFit mechanism that allows you to extend or retract the Lightning or USB-C connector by up to 4mm: this not only allows the camera to cope with phone or tablet cases, but also allows you to tighten up the connection once the camera is attached.

You notice two lenses on the FLIR device: one is for the Lepton thermal sensor, which comes with either 80 by 60 active pixels (used in the FLIR ONE) or 160 by 120 pixels (used in the Pro model); the other is a visible-light camera with 1,440-by-1,080 resolution. FLIR’s ‘multispectral dynamic imaging’, or MSX, technology overlays the images from these sensors, providing useful visible detail embossed on the thermal image.

As well as higher-resolution thermal images and VividIR image processing, the Pro model offers extra features in the companion app, including multiple spot temperature meters and selectable on-screen temperature tracking regions.

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The basic FLIR ONE companion app is augmented by FLIR Tools (also free), which allows you to import, edit and analyse saved images, and create PDF reports on, say, the inspection of a piece of equipment. A number of third-party iOS and Android apps are also available. And if you’re an Apple Watch or Android smartwatch user (selected models), you can stream live thermal images to your wearable device — allowing you, for example, to see around awkward corners.

Aside from the fun factor of messing around with thermal imagery, there are plenty of professional applications — in the building, home improvement, automotive and agricultural sectors among others.

Now available for preorder, the FLIR ONE costs £215.99 ($199.99 in the US), while the FLIR ONE Pro costs £395.99 ($399.99 in the US).

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