When the film Predator hit the cinema back in 1987, it was terrifying. Not only could the alien terrorists see their prey, but they could see them even in the dark or when they were hiding, due to their thermal vision which detected heat, rather than shapes.
This movie made thermal imaging a thing. Not just because we were terrified of alien hunters, either, but because we realized how useful thermal imaging actually could be.
Where Superman can see through walls, thermal imaging can see through walls - supposing there is a heat signature behind it.
Thermal cameras allow the photographer to see infrared light, which is invisible to the naked eye, but part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Although this has obviously existed for a while, it’s still quite new commercially, because only recently has the technology become small and affordable enough to be considered useful. Prior to that, it was mostly just used by the military or SWAT teams.
But last year, FLIR Systems launched the FLIR One thermal imaging camera that was compatible with the iPhone 5 and 5S. The two piece design turned the iPhone into a thermal camera, which allowed the phone to see the invisible heat signatures left by people and objects. It was set a rather pricey $349, though.
But now, the company’s second generation FLIR One camera works with more than just two iPhone variants, and more importantly, it’s a much cheaper, at $249.99.
Compatible with both iPhones and iPads, as well as Android smartphones and tablets, the second generation camera has been designed to attach directly to the iOS device’s lightning port or the Android device’s Micro USD port. This is radically different than the first generation’s case-like design, and the newer version weighs only a third as much as the original. Now the FLIR One is easier to store in your pocket, and easier to operate.
The new generation FLIR One has four times the resolution of the old model, coming in at 160 x 120 pixel resolution, which might not seem like a lot for regular pictures. But for a thermal sensor, this is pretty good. It now also comes with an app, so you simply point your phone or tablet at any image and you can get a thermal reading on your screen.
The hotter the object, the more yellow it appears. The cooler the object, the more blue it appears. The updated version will also let you see the exact temperature thanks to the temperature reader.
You can take all the thermal images, videos, time-lapses and panoramas you need.
Even cooler, in the gallery, you can choose to see the regular photo under the thermal image. Unfortunately, as of now, you can only save or send the thermal shots, not the regular images as well.
Obviously, even despite the price cut, this product isn’t for everyone. You hardly need it for your selfie-snapping night on the town. For now, third party apps are still pretty limited, but it’ll be interesting to see if the heat takes off (get it?).
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