Posts Tagged ‘FLIR


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.

For more information on the GroupGet campaign for the FLIR Lepton sensors…


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.


FLIR is one of the most popular names of a company that is into the business with thermal imagers, although up until recently they were focused more on the professional side of things. Lately however the company is also seeing the big market potential that affordable consumer level thermal cameras in the form of accessories for mobile devices open up. The result is the FLIR ONE thermal imaging accessory designed especially for owners of Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S smartphones. We are talking about thermal imaging accessory and not just for a thermal camera as the FLIR ONE comes with two cameras, one for visual light and one for thermography. FLIR has decided not to go using the built-in visual light camera into the iPhone 5/5S which is much better than the one they have included, but maybe their choice was based on design limitation or who knows. You should be aware of the fact that FLIR ONE comes in the form of a case for the iPhone 5/5S using the Apple Lightning interface and is not compatible with other iOS-based devices. While this design idea is fine if you own an iPhone 5 or 5S, but Apple has already released iPhone 6, so if you want to be able to continue using the FLIR ONE you would need to have a spare iPhone 5 or 5S even if you go and buy the new iPhone model.

We have already mentioned the fact that FLIR ONE comes with two cameras, one for visible light images and one thermal camera. FLIR uses the image data from both devices blending both images using MSX Technology and thus providing physical detail to the raw thermal reading. Normally thermal images do not reveal a lot of detail of the physical objects that you are checking as they contain thermal information, but when you take a visible light image as well and take the outlines of objects from it and blend that data with the thermal image the results are great. Even with lower resolution thermal image this method makes it possible to get a much better looking thermal images that are easier to read and understand, especially from people that are not too experienced with thermal imaging.


The FLIR ONE thermal imaging accessory is based on the small and affordable Lepton micro thermal imager. This small sensor is what makes possible to have a lower resolution FLIR thermal cameras available at very affordable prices. Even though the available 80×60 pixels thermal array from the Lepton sensor is not too much it is still quite useable, especially when you blend the thermal image with a visual one to provide more visual details to the user. It is interesting to note that when displaying real-time images or recording video, FLIR ONE employs an image enhancement that produces a 160×120 thermal image according to the manufacturer of the device.

FLIR ONE thermal imaging accessory specifications:
– Scene range temperature: 0°C to 100°C (32°F to 212°F)
– Weight: 3.9 ounces, 110 grams
– Dimensions: 140 x 61 x 22 mm (L x W x H)
– Battery capacity: 1400 mA/h (maximum thermal imager battery life is approximately four hours continuous use. FLIR ONE does not consume power from the iPhone battery, nor does it charge the iPhone battery)
– Core: FLIR Lepton thermal camera core (80×60 pixels)
– Visible camera: 640×480 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 and 1A wall charger (charges FLIR ONE only)
– iPhone compatibility: iPhone 5, iPhone 5S running iOS 7 or above

The FLIR ONE accessory for iPhone 5/5S is available at a price of $349.99 USD and we have already ordered one to use as a part fo our testing equipment, so soon you will be able to see actual thermal images as well as read our personal feedback from using the device. The only thing that we are not overly happy in the specifications of the device is the temperature range that it operates in, it would’ve been much better if it was a little bit wider than what it is. Other than that we hope to be satisfied with what FLIR ONE will provide us with in terms of resulting thermal images, though we are also looking at other alternatives as well as FLIR is already facing a bit of competition in the field of affordable consumer oriented thermal cameras. There are alternatives that are supposed to offer better specifications at least on paper, but FLIR has the advantage of years of expertise in thermal imaging.

For more information about the FLIR ONE thermal imaging device for iPhone 5/5S…