Heat vision is now available for your smartphone or tablet

This thermal imaging camera plugs into your device and lets you "see" invisible heat all around you - for safety or fun.

By on September 16, 2015

We're used to associating heat vision technology — the ability to see the thermal signatures given off by humans, animals and objects — with movies like "Predator" and with the U.S. military. But thanks to a device called Flir One, thermal imaging is now available for purchase to anyone with an Android, iPhone or iPad device — and the possibilities for making good use of it are seemingly endless.

The Flir One's recently-revamped thermal imaging camera costs $249.99, and attaches directly to an iOS device's Lightning port or an Android device's Micro USB port. It's light enough to carry in your pocket, and packs the ability to basically turn your device into a highly functional thermal camera. Some of the many uses Flir One touts on their website include everything from security (like detecting intruders), to averting household crises by easily "seeing" leaks, to spotting animals in the wild or lost pets at home. It's even recommended for recreational use, such as high-tech games of hide-and-seek outdoors, and for convenience tasks such as making sure your burrito is cool enough to bite into.

"Thermal imaging until now has been an expensive and ‘professional use only’ technology," says Jordan Duffy, an innovation and IT expert. "Consumerization of this technology will make manufacturing cheaper and allow [it] to be applied in more industries and positions faster," he says.

The consumer version of the Flir One, which has products available for business as well (such as security cameras), is now in its second generation, which is cheaper, lighter and easier to use than the first. To use it, you just plug the device in, download its accompanying app, open it and point it at an object, person or landscape. The Flir One actually has two cameras — one thermal and one standard — and combines the images to make it easier to know exactly what you're seeing. It will show you the area you're scanning in a spectrum from blue to yellow — the more blue an object is, the colder it is, and the more yellow it is, the warmer. 

Duffy sees even more uses for this technology than its website mentions. "[Flir One could help] increase safety for users at home and in business, allowing them to measure risks (heat, electricity flow, etc.) before engaging with high risk environments," he says. "A mechanic could look at a car engine and ensure they have left time for the heat points to cool down before risking burns, and police officers entering the field could see heat on door knobs and important evidence items without compromising or touching the environment," he notes. 

As word gets out about this device, early adopters are sure to find even more uses for personal heat vision, from ways to improve home safety, to cool convenience hacks to just fun and games. This gadget just might be the ultimate gift for the techie who has everything. After all, as Duffy points out, "The use cases are endless."

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