Thermal Camera Imaging Brought to Your Daily Life, See Things Like Never Before
When we are talking about a thermal camera that is designed to be used together with a smartphone or a tablet we presume that it needs to be a low-end and affordable solution. Well, that is not always the case as we can see with the Therm-App from the Israeli company Opgal. The main goal of the Therm-App accessory for Android mobile devices is to turn smartphones into powerful thermal cameras, featuring high-resolution thermography and long range, enhanced night vision capabilities. The Therm-App comes with a thermal imager with a resolution of 384×288 pixels that previously was only available on standalone professional thermal imaging cameras and thermography devices. The lightweight and compact Therm-App device fits multiple phone models. It can also be mounted on any tripod or camera handle using its standard connector. With its interchangeable lenses system, the Therm-App device provides effective detection of faraway targets through its long range (19mm) lens, and a wider view through its 6.8mm lens. Its 8.7Hz FPS version is export license free. The only thing that you might not like much about this accessory is the price, it is currently available for $1600 USD, though for the resolution and features it offers you canot expect it to be very cheap.
– Resolution: 384×288 pixels (>110k pixels)
– Spectrum: LWIR 7.5 -14um
– Enhanced Vision: High-resolution thermal imagery (grayscale day/night vision) NETD <0.07°C - Color temperature mapping: 5°C to 90°C - Available palettes: Rainbow, Iron, Grayscale - Lens And FOV: 19mm lens (19 x 14⁰) - Frame Rate: 8.7Hz - Operating Temperature: -10°C to +50°C (-4°F to +122°F) - Power Supply: 5V over USB cable - Power Consumption: Less than 0.5W - Certifications: CE, FCC - Device Attachment: Clip-on for smartphone (5-10cm span) - Mobile Platform Support: USB OTG (On The Go) compatible devices - Mobile OS Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up - Recording And Sharing: Therm-App Smartphone App plus any sharing App
Specifications wise there is one important thing worth mentioning that can be considered as a bit of a disadvantage – the temperature range that the thermal camera accessory can detect. The operating range of just 5 to 90 degrees Celsius is pretty limiting and with a larger resolution thermal imaging sensor we kind of expected to see a wider detection range available as well, especially considering the price of the Therm-App device. Other than that the device does look pretty cool with its design allowing the user to also swap lenses depending if a longer or shorter detection range is required – based on the kind of use you are planning to go for. The sample thermal images captured with the high resolution thermal imaging sensor do look very nice in their original resolution and with some interpolation they they be perfect for use for visualizations and thermal reports, that is if the temperature range of the Therm-App is enough for your needs.
A thermographic camera, often also referred to as infrared camera (could be confused with digital cameras modified to take photos only in the infrared light spectrum), thermal imaging camera or just thermal camera is similar in design and functionality to a common digital camera, however there are some important differences. While most common digital cameras operate in the very narrow range of the visible light and barely touching some of the “invisible” Ultraviolet and Infrared ranges, thermal cameras operate in the invisible for the human eye infrared range and they can cover a really wide part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The process of taking thermal images with an thermal camera is referred as thermography and what the cameras essentially do is record the level of infrared radiation that an object emits. Thing get even better, because for taking thermal images you do not need to have visible light – thermal cameras can detect the emitted infrared radiation of objects in total darkness and thus their potential for different uses is extended even further.
The thermal imaging sensors used in thermographic cameras do not distinguish colors as they are not operating in the visible light spectrum as we have already said, instead they record the level of infrared radiation emitted from the objects that the camera is pointed at. This essentially produces a monochromatic image with the intensity of a pseudo color representing different temperature (this type of visualization is often used in security thermal cameras). This however is not as easy to distinguish when you need to do thermal analysis, so various alternative methods of representation using false colors representing the difference in temperature as usually used. The most common visualizations of thermal images use black for the coldest areas, then going blue and purple for slightly hotter areas, the mid-range of temperatures is usually red, orange and yellow and going to white for the hottest parts. These false color visualizations usually do come with a small scale next to the image that show the colors used and what temperature the respective color stands for.
Usually thermal images are with a much lower resolution if you compare to what number of pixels the modern digital cameras provide, the reason is that the sensors used in thermal imaging cameras are much more expensive than what a sensor for recording the visible light costs. For example a 160×120 or 320×240 pixels thermal imaging sensors can be considered quite good and these usually are found in thermographic cameras that cost a few thousand dollars while as comparison we are already using multi-megapixel digital cameras in our smartphones with much higher resolution. Another important difference with thermal imaging cameras is that recording video is usually found in very high-end and pretty expensive models, it is not a common thing that you can find available on a more affordable thermal camera. Even if you manage to get a thermal imaging camera that supports video recording the chances are that it will record video at a much lower framerate than you probably are used in seeing in a normal video shot with a digital camera.
We have always been fascinated with Thermal Imaging and Thermal Cameras as well as all other means of “seeing” the world around us in a different way that is simply not possible with what senses we humans have. This is one of the main reasons that we have created this project, as a means to play around, experiment and see things around us in a different way that what we see with our eyes and also to show it to you. For many people thermal vision or thermal images are directly being associated with one of the vision modes that the alien called Predator had in the movie series Predator. In fact our interest in thermal imaging is also related to the first Predator movie featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger from 1987, so it is not uncommon to often seen relations to this when talking about thermal imaging. Thermal cameras are becoming more and more accessible to people and they are finding their way in the hands of more normal people, although they are still used mostly by professionals for various work related tasks. But a thermal camera can be useful for a lot of thing and we are going to try to give you an idea for a few of these as well as to show you how common things look like when viewed with a thermal imaging camera, so stay tuned for some cool things to come.