Cool Attachment Turns Phones Into Infrared Thermal Camera

Flir one

The Flir one is a smartphone attachment that allows the phone to measure heat and see in the dark. Flir has been creating infrared and thermal imaging for years. The camera have been used by military aircraft and for thermal views of Formula One cars, but the company is now bringing the technology to the mainstream with a consumer version.

The Flir One contains two cameras- one that detects infrared light and one that detects visible light using a low resolution CMOS sensor. The accompanying app overlays the visible light image on top of the thermal image in real time, which allows the coloured infrared information to have details and edges that create the full images.

The Flir One can be used to see a real time picture of the different temperatures of objects, scenes or animals. The attachment can also be used to measure the temperature of a particular area, along with photo, video, time-lapse and timer images created by the app.

The applications of this cool gadget span beyond an amusing and interesting smartphone trick. The device can be used in repairs and home improvement, for example to locate leaks, drafts or pinpoint a fire. The gadget can see in the dark, making it perfect for home security. As well as offering the app to consumers, Flir is launching an SDK program which will allow developers to work with the infrared software, creating new ways for the technology to be helpful. There are already a number of apps which have been approved by Flir for use with the Flir One.

The Flir app is clever and allows for a number of ways to measure temperature. Crosshairs are used to measure the temperature of particular points on an image which can be dragged around. Users can also switch between thermal and normal camera views, while custom temperature ranges can be set so users can look for precise heat variation. Nine colour schemes are offered by the app which work like filters on the thermal view and resulting images. These work to highlight the hottest and coldest spots on an image, as well as colourising other parts.

While home consumers may not think they have a lot of use for the gadget and app, there are professions where it will come in very handy, and it will cost a lot less than the usual technology needed to see and take images of a thermal scene. The building and repairs trade will likely find good use for the infrared smartphone attachment in pinpointing areas that need to be fixed. It will also be useful for those who work with animals, from the rangers of large parks which contain dangerous animals to vets and even those who work in pest control.

Proposed apps for the Flir One include an application developed by Owens Corning which shows homeowners where heat is entering or escaping from their home, and suggests ways in which to solve the problems. Security app creator Manything is also hoping to take advantage of the thermal imaging sensor to create an app that can check for intruders even in complete darkness. There are also fun apps on the way that can distinguish a person’s skin from their clothes and change the colour or texture in real time accordingly. They won’t form a reason to buy the gadget, but they may offer a moment of amusement for those who already own the device.

The Flir One attachment has a 350mAh internal battery so it doesn’t drain the smartphone’s power, and a fully charged battery can last for around an hour of continuous use. The thermal imaging equipment that Flir currently manufactures  ranges in price from around $700 to $30,000 but the Flir One costs just $249, meaning it may not be a must-have gadget for most, but it could save a lot of money for those who have been put off the price of buying professional thermal imaging equipment. With the apps that Flir is hoping developers will make, there could be many more uses than you may think for the infrared gadget.

The Flir One is already available for iOS devices and the Android version will be launching soon with a micro USB connection.

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