Thermal Imaging with Smartphones

Flir One in Use

The Flir One (2nd generation) is a £200 smartphone add-on, available for Android or iOS.  The CAT S60 has the same thermal imaging capabilities in a ~£500 rugged, waterproof Android smartphone. These have similar specifications to our Fluke TiR and TiR105 cameras, which cost ~£2,800 each, only made possible with grants from Cambridge City Council.

Flir OHouse Front - F1 + MSXne thermal image with MSX, which cleverly includes the edges of objects from the visible image:
Without MSX (or if you took the image in the dark) you see the infra-red image is quite blurred:
House Front - F1 No MSX

Fluke TiR105 gives sharper infra-red images, but with a narrower field of view:
House Front TiR105

Flir One’s advantages:

  • low-cost, small, lightweight.  Uses smartphone features
  • MSX clarifies its thermal images
  • wider field of view: 46° x 35°   (vs 31 x 22° for TiR105,  23 x 17° for TiR)
  • takes video, as well as stills

Fluke cameras’ advantages:

  • sharper thermal images, even though the same 160 x 120 infrared resolution claimed
    (but MSX helps the Flir One)
  • rugged – we haven’t had one damaged, while lending them many hundred times
  • more reliable – Flir One apps sometimes crash
  • ~4hr battery life  vs <1hr for Flir One, but can plug in external battery, while in use

Is your Phone or Tablet compatible with the Flir One?
Flir give some information at the bottom of this page.

For Android, the key requirements are:

The orientation of the micro USB connector determines whether you need the supplied reversing adapter, which makes the assembly rather delicate. See this video:

A 0.5m long µUSB extension lead is available from Insight

Flir have now pre-announced the Flir One Pro (~£400) and the Flir One (3rd generation), with 160×120 and 80×60 infrared resolution respectively, which is disappointing compared to the 160×120 of the current 2nd generation,  above. But the new models’ lack-lustre resolution may be compensated for by clever image processing.  The Flir One (2nd generation) discussed here still seems a good buy, unless your smartphone has a new-style USB type ‘C’ connector, as on these new cameras.

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