FLIR night vision cameras have been on boats for years now, but the fixed-mount models are pricey, and the smallest handheld in the marine market costs about $2,000. And that’s what makes FLIR’s recent announcement so astonishing. The company released a thermal imager that attaches to the most recent iPhones and costs just $350.
The FLIR ONE, which uses the phone’s screen as a display, can be set for both visible light and infrared spectrums. It has its own battery pack, which can power the device for up to four hours and can act as a pass-through to charge the phone as well.
The camera, like its bigger brethren, has several pretty obvious marine applications, including intruder detection, finding buoys in the dark, scanning the engine for hot spots or detecting moisture in the decks. FLIR has offered the tiny Lepton camera core—less than the size of a dime—to companies that serve various markets. So in all likelihood other manufacturers will develop similar camera products for Android devices and tablets using the same Lepton core.
FLIR had better achieve mass adoption of its core imager. Development costs for the Lepton camera for iPhone came in at around $100 million—an enormous sum for R&D in the marine industry. Other applications might include diagnostic tools, automobiles, toys, building controls, process equipment, security systems, machine vision systems, and advanced gaming devices. You can even use it to determine whether that steak on the grill is cooked to your liking.