Thermal Camera Imaging Brought to Your Daily Life, See Things Like Never Before
The Mu Optics Thermal Imager was a project for an affordable thermal camera with the resolution and software capabilities to make it useful to normal people is the form of a smartphone accessory. The project was launched and successfully funded at the end of March 2013, however the development was just recently cancelled by the people behind the project. Back when the project was announced the specs of the device looked pretty nice for an affordable thermal imaging accessory for smartphones or tablets as in 2013 the market was not attacked by many similar devices like it is now. The Mu Optics thermal camera accessory was supposed to come with a 160×120 pixels thermal imaging sensor, be able to detect temperatures in the range of -66 to 90 degrees Celsius, supporting Android and iOS mobile devices and come with a price tag of $325 USD.
Last year these specs looked really good, but now there are already a few products available on the market with similar specifications or even better and with similar price or lower. The cancellation of the project was announced citing precisely the competition that is already available on the market, though we would’ve still liked to the the Mu Optics thermal camera available. Even if it was only available to backers of the crowdfunding campaign that the project had last year and it got funded by almost 2000 people with many more showing interest in the product after that. Anyway, it was a bit of disappointment to see the project getting cancelled as it was apparently already close to the final product being ready for production. Do note that the official website of Mu Optics does not have a mention about the project getting cancelled, the information was published on their IndieGoGo project campaign website only!
Hema Imager from Hema Imaging is another affordable thermal camera accessory for smartphones and tablets that had launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign a few months ago. Unfortunately even though there were quite a lot of supporters the goal of the campaign has not been reached, but the project is not dead and the people being it are still working on improving things and promise to launch a new crowd-funding campaign soon. Hema-Imager uses a thermal imaging sensor with resolution of 64×62 pixels and connects to mobile devices over a Bluetooth interface, users will have access to three primary image modes – thermal overlay on color camera, thermal overlay on wireframe camera, and raw thermal image. The idea of the device is to be paired with a mobile gadget that already has a visible light camera, so that visible and thermal images can be overlayed, but you should be able to use the thermal images with a computer over WiFi as well if you are Ok with just the thermal images.
The most interesting thing about the HemaImager is that the device does not use an uncooled microbolometer as a thermal sensor (like many thermal cameras do, especially in the more affordable range), but instead is relying on a thermopile array as a thermal sensor. This allows the HemaImager to work without the need to recalibrate from time to time in order to avoid the device to start reporting false thermal information. As most thermal imaging devices rely on microbolometer arrays for sensors they need to recalibrate the sensor array from time to time in order to continue reporting accurate temperature data and this means that every few seconds you get a pause in the measuring that the device performs until it recalibrates and is available for use again.
Hema Imager Specifications:
– 64×62 thermopile array with integrated optics
– Best sensor resolution at this price at 0.61 degree angular resolution
– No non-uniformity correction needed with thermopile technology
– Frame rate up to the ITAR-TASS regulations limit of 9 frames per second to any fully Bluetooth or WiFi-capable device.
– Low power consumption and 850 mAhr battery provides up to 8 hours of continuous use without charging, or over a month if just using for 10 minutes daily.
– Android application for smartphone or tablet
– iOS application for iPhone and iPad
– Python & OpenCV application for windows & linux desktop
– App or button-driven laser pointer and online temperature display aligned to center of field of view with 2 deg C accuracy
– Thermal measurement range: -20 degrees Celsius to 232 degrees Celisus
The projected price for the end product should be $250 USD which will make the Hema Imager a really affordable thermal camera accessory for module devices with good features and specifications if/when it becomes available. Since the Kickstarter project did not get funded completely and the people behind the project plan to relaunch a new campaign the device may not see the light of day before sometime in 2015, maybe the second half, you may want to look at some other alternatives that may not be so good and affordable or flexible, but are already available on the market.