Posts Tagged ‘thermal imager

lepton-thermal-camera-breakout-board

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…

mu-optics-thermal-imager

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.

mu-optics-thermal-imager-specs

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!

flir-one-thermal-imaging-accessory

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.

flir-one-thermal-image-samples

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…


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