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$199 Thermal-imaging camera
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Thumbs up $199 Thermal-imaging camera - 09-25-2014, 14:36 | posts: 17,578 | Location:

Hands-On With The $199 Seek Thermal Smartphone Infrared Camera (Yes, Really Actually): This Is Amazing

When a company's pitch to you is that their smartphone accessory was developed in cooperation with Raytheon, you're likely to listen. When that company then tells you they've built the world's first truly affordable thermal (infrared) camera and that it also attaches directly to your smartphone, you listen closely.

No, this isn't a gimmick, a trick, or some kind of workaround using widely-available technology to emulate thermal imaging. Seek Thermal is a real thermal imaging device that you can attach to your smartphone's microUSB port (Galaxy S4, S5, and Moto X / Moto G currently supported officially) and feed live video from the IR camera to the display.

One of the big problems with entry-level thermal imaging products has generally been, over the years, resolution. A handheld thermal imaging system with 80x60 (yes, 80 pixels by 60 pixels) resolution from a reputable manufacturer like FLIR will set you back $1000. Seek Thermal's sensor has a resolution of 206x156, but costs only a fifth as much. (A FLIR with even 160x120 resolution costs around $2500, by the way.) Like most IR cameras, the Seek's field of view is also extremely narrow, at just 38 degrees.

Now, it's true that these very expensive professional-grade systems do have some advantages over the Seek. More temperature accuracy at extremes (the Seek isn't particularly accurate for temperatures over 90 Celsius, but it is sensitive from -40C to 330C, and Seek claims they're working on this), built-in visible-light cameras, extreme ruggedness, and bundled software suites designed to analyze images taken from the devices.

Seek, though, doesn't really need a resume of its own as long as it works like it says on the box, and so far, I'm totally convinced. Now, there are some caveats - still images captured from Seek look like butt, especially if they're of a relatively complex scene.

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