Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Other thermal cameras are available ...

Digging around after my piece last week on the FLIR One I discovered that this isn't the only game in town when it comes to relatively inexpensive thermal imagers using smart phones for control.

I have already mentioned Andy Rawson's lo-res device, which I was told about in July 2013. Andy's web site now tells us that they have discontinued the camera because other inexpensive thermal cameras with higher resolution are now available. There was, however, another camera in the pipeline called Hema-Imager from Erik Beall, but this failed to reach its Kickstarter target. I get the feeling that these guys won't be giving up, and I wish them luck.

Israeli company Opgal have produced the Therm-App, which uses an Android phone as controller. This is more expensive that the FLIR One but has a higher thermal resolution (384 x 288 pixels and 7.4 to 14 microns ... which, of course, includes human body temperature) with a current price of $999 (full price $1600). This camera clips onto the back of your phone and connects via a small cable.

California-based Seek Thermal have announced a 206 by 156 pixel thermal camera add-on for both Android and iOS. It connects via micro USB or Lightning (depending on the device)and slots onto the bottom of your smart phone. Examples on their web site look good and so do the specs: vanadium oxide microbolometer detecting between 7.2 and 13 microns. The price, in the US, is $199.

All the companies marketing these inexpensive thermal cameras hope to build a market to help DIY (aka home improvement) by detecting hidden pipes and checking the temperature of food as well as seeing in the dark security.

There may be even more such devices out there ... if you know of one then let me know in the comments.

Friday, 12 September 2014

FLIR One now available in US

FLIR's iPhone add-on thermal camera, the FLIR One, which I discussed back in January is now available from the US Apple Store. Availability in other territories should follow.

It turns out that the resolution of the thermal camera is 80 by 60 pixels but this is merged with a 640 by 480 pixel visible light camera and the image is enhanced depending on which mode you use. The image below is a composite image used by FLIR for promotion.

You can see the softness of the thermal information but I have to admit the blend with the visual image makes for a quite usable result.

The cost in the US is $350 and you have to use an iPhone 5 or 5s. The device will not fit on either iPhone 6 and it would seem that FLIR have no plans to produce a new one. That was always the risk but this still brings thermal imaging into a completely new area of use, appealing to small businesses and hobbyists alike.

Gizmodo got their hands on one in August and explain just what you might want to do with it (if you don't know already). They also did a review, but they were unsure whether it's worth the money. Given the usual way tech prices inflate as they cross the Atlantic that may be a bigger issue over here in the UK. That said, to echo one of the commentators on the review, it's still cheap for a thermal imager.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

RPS award for Andy Finney and Infrared 100

I'm honoured to have been awarded a Fenton medal at last night's Royal Photographic Society Awards in London. The award was given partly for the Infrared 100 project, celebrating the centenary of Robert Williams Wood's paper on Photography by Invisible Rays, given to the RPS, and of the first published infrared photograph.