As you're texting or taking pictures with your smartphone, do you ever stop and think, "Man, this device would definitely be more fun if I could take some infrared images"? Okay. Me neither. But, we can admit that having the technology to turn our phones into infrared cameras is cool.
FLIR, a company that calls itself "the world’s sixth sense" has released the FLIR ONE, a $249.99 attachment that connects to Android and IOS devices, transforming a standard smartphone into a device that can see the infrared spectrum. That means, rather than just seeing images the way your naked eye would, users can see heat.
"Normally, our vision is limited to a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum," writes FLIR on the website. "Thermal energy has a much longer wavelength than visible light. So long, in fact, that the human eye can't even see it, just like we can't see radio waves. With thermal imaging, the portion of the spectrum we perceive is dramatically expanded, helping us 'see' heat. Visible light doesn't affect the thermal world, so you can see equally well in highly lit and totally dark environments."
Not sure what all that means? Let’s visually see what an infrared image looks like.
Because thermal images by themselves don't provide too much physical detail, FLIR pairs its infrared camera with a regular camera, blending the two pictures to bring out the details. Users can take pictures, videos, panorama images and time-lapse videos.
Beyond taking strange-looking pictures of your dog or child in infrared, why would someone want access to this technology? It was originally developed for military night vision, but FLIR notes that there are a variety of practical applications for the general public.
Those who enjoy the outdoors can use it to detect animals, especially those that are naturally camouflaged or nocturnal. (You could even go bird watching at night!) When camping, you could see when a campfire has officially gone out. And, if you happen to lose your pet, you could search your neighborhood for the animal even after the sun goes down.
At home, you can use the camera app to spot heat loss and make necessary adjustments. You can also use infrared to spot wall studs, leaking pipes, overloaded circuits and more, helping laypeople and professionals alike fix problems. It can even be used for surveillance to see if there are intruders in the area.
And, of course, the least practical but most likely reason people will buy the FLIR ONE: It's cool. You can take artistic pictures, play games and just observe the world through an entirely different lens.