Thermal Camera Imaging Brought to Your Daily Life, See Things Like Never Before
FLIR has announced a new second generation of their Flir One thermal imaging accessory for smartphones and tablets, making it useable on wider range of devices and adding a version for Android OS as well. Originally the FLIR ONE was compatible with iPhone 5 and 5S only as it was made specifically to fit the form and size of these devices, but the new version comes in totally device independent design. The new FLIR ONE utilizes either a micro-USB connector for Android devices or a Lightning connector for iOS devices to offer a compact accessory that easily connects to a smartphone or tablet. The FLIR ONE is powered by an internal battery and utilizes FLIR’s latest generation Lepton thermal camera core, which features four times the resolution of the previous version. Images are further enhanced with FLIR’s patented multi-spectral dynamic imaging (MSX) technology, which embosses the edge details from FLIR ONE’s visible camera onto the thermal image producing high fidelity images.
Specifications of the new FLIR ONE:
– Scene temperature range: -4°F to 248°F (-20° to 120°C)
– Operating temperature: 32°F to 95°F (0°C to 35°C)
– Weight: 2.75 ounces, 32 grams
– Dimensions: L 2.8 inches (72mm) x W 1 inch (26mm) x H 0.7 inches (18mm)
– Battery capacity: 350 mA/h. FLIR ONE neither consumes power from the connected device battery, nor charges it. When inactive, FLIR automatically switches to low-power mode to maximize its battery life.
– Visible camera: VGA (used for FLIR MSX blending)
– Sensitivity: ability to detect temperature differences as small as 0.18° F (0.1° C)
– Charging method: micro-USB (Android) and lightning connector (Apple) paired with 1A wall charger
– Device compatibility: Android products containing a micro-USB and Apple products containing a lightning connector, including iPhone 6 and 6 plus, among others.
– Included accessory: charging cable (either micro-USB or lightning connector)
– Certifications and standards: Mfi (iOS Only) FCC, CE, RoHS, CAN ICES-3 (B)/NMB-3(B), UL
There are several areas where the new FLIR ONE is better than the first model. You apparently get a more powerful thermal sensor with four times the resolution for crisper and clearer thermal images (160×120 up from 80×60 of the old Lepton sensor). It also features automatic tuning, so there is no need to manually tune the device for optimum temperature detection. There is a new lighter-weight design that is less than a third the weight of the original. Also the temperature range has been increased with another 40 degrees, including support for minus temperatures that can be quite useful at times.
The second generation FLIR ONE comes with with an MSRP of $249.99 USD and should be available worldwide starting July for iOS devices, with the Android-compatible version to available in July. The first generation FLIR ONE for Apple’s iPhone 5/5s platform is now available at a reduced price of $149.99 USD down from the original price of $349.99 USD when it was launched last year.
The FLIR Lepton thermal imaging sensor is a smaller resolution (80×60 pixels) and affordable priced sensor designed for use in mobile devices providing an affordable thermal imaging capabilities. This is the thermal imaging sensor that is used by FLIR in their FLIR ONE thermal imaging accessory for the Apple iPhone 5 and 5S. The DIY and hardware hacking community has already worked up on a solution to use the FLIR Leptopn sensor along with a custom developed breakout board for various projects. But since FLIR does not sell single units separately, but takes only large orders for the sensors it is hard to get a Lepton sensor to experiment with. One way to do so is to buy a FLIR ONE disassemble the device and take out sensor, the alternative is to go for a group buy. There is a GroupGet campaign for the FLIR Lepton Thermal Camera Core currently running that can help you get a single or a few units for $207.60 USD each and you can also get a breakout board for $45 USD each. This will allow you to interface the Lepton thermal imaging sensor to a custom controller and add thermal imaging capabilities to a project you are working on such as a robot or a drone for example.
If you are taking thermal images of various things you should be well aware of the fact that while thermal images do show the temperature of objects they do little to provide easy visual cues to what part of the object is hotter or colder. The reason is that thermal images just record the temperature information of objects and while this can create somewhat of an outline of the object you are examining, if you do not take a visual image to store with the thermal image later on you might have trouble identifying things on the thermal image. Not all thermal cameras ca do that – record both thermal and visual images, but even if your camera does not support that (like our FLIR i7 for example) you can still do pretty well if you use a digital camera or your smartphone to also take a visual image as a reference.
Thermal MSX (Multi Spectral Dynamic Imaging) images is what FLIR calls their mode of overlaying both thermal and visual images together and processing the data in order to provide a more detailed thermal image and this mode does work very well as you can see on the sample image above. Even with lower resolution thermal image when you overlay on top of it a visual image and combine the two to have the outlines of the objects you are shooting the end result can be really good. On this thermal photo we have recorded the temperature of an Mitsubishi Air-conditioning system in operation shot with the FLIR ONE thermal camera accessory for iPhone. Even though the FLIR ONE is with a low resolution thermal imaging sensor when we combine the thermal with visual information the resulting thermal MSX image does look really good as it can give both useful thermal and visual information, especially if the goal of the image is to be more understandable to people that are new to thermal imaging.
Taking MSX thermal images (overlaid visual and thermal data) however is not possible all the time as taking a good image in the visual light spectrum does require you to have good light conditions, unlike thermal images that can be taken even during total darkness. So make sure that you have enough light available when you need to take MSX thermal images if you have a thermal camera capable of this as not all models can do this, but as we’ve explained you can help yourself by taking manually a visible spectrum photo with the help of your smartphone or digital camera.