Smartphones Can Become Thermal Imaging Devices

Smartphones have enriched the lives of consumers by giving them countless avenues for new information. Now, technology may be turning your smartphone into a thermal imaging device.

Thermal imaging allows a person to see in the dark. Soldiers and firefighters use thermal imaging to assist them in their jobs.

Several companies are competing for this segment of the market.

Flir Systems has developed an infrared camera that connects to the back of your iPhone, converting your smartphone into a thermal imaging device. The device works with both iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, and it looks just like any other protective case on the market.

The accessory changes the way that a smartphone reads images through its camera. When paired with its iPhone app, Flir One displays live infrared imagery, allowing the user to see the image from a thermal perspective. The lens picks up on heat from a human body, fire, hot sidewalk, etc. to give the users a better sense of his surroundings. The add-on is called the Flir One, and it is priced at $349.

“Based on technology that was formerly reserved for the military, Flir One is the first in a new generation of affordable thermal imaging devices designed to inspire imaginative and innovative uses by consumers,” said Andy Teich, President and CEO of Flir Systems in a statement. “This represents a revolutionary step forward for both Flir Systems and thermal imaging.”

Flir Systems is not the first company to dabble with smartphones and thermal imaging. Some industry veterans plan to sell a product this fall called Seek Thermal. This will be a $100 camera module that plugs into the bottom of your phone.

Products like these could do wonders for fire departments across the nation. Right now, those departments have to spend nearly $10,000 to get handheld thermal imaging devices. Departments may be able to pay a fraction of that for one of these new devices.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.