Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Infrared Sensor for Smartphone

Why Your Smartphone Needs an Infrared Sensor

You could use a heat sensor to check your house for leaks, for instance. 

But mostly, it's a lot of fun.


For the past two decades, civilian infrared options have been bulky and expensive, used mostly by fire departments locating people in burning buildings and contractors identifying poor insulation and overheated wires. But thanks to significant innovations in infrared chips, called microbolometers, two new thermal devices are available—and actually affordable—to folks like you and me. And they fit right on your phone.
The Flir One ($350) offers the most elegant solution, sliding onto an iPhone (only the 5 and 5s, for now) like a case. Its two cameras merge an 80 x 60–pixel thermal image with a black-and-white VGA (640 x 480) picture, so it's easy to know exactly what the heat images are showing. When I took a shot of myself reenacting Munch's The Scream, the camera highlighted a hot burst of white coming out of my mouth, my red checks, and the orange–yellow of my cooler arms.
At $200, Seek Thermal is more affordable and smaller, and offers higher infrared resolution (206 x 156). Sadly, though, Seek doesn't merge heat images with actual photos. This can make it hard to recognize what you're looking at, like when I struggled to distinguish among hot electronic components in my friend's crowded workshop. But Seek makes up for this with a wider field of view and easier usability. The half-ounce unit plugs in to any micro USB slot or iPhone Lightning connector. Seek claims its sensor is sensitive to thermal signatures in the 7- to 13-micron range, and that it can differentiate temperatures from minus 40 C to 330 C (minus 40 F to 626 F).
But the real question: What to do with these things? You can be practical and check pipes for leaks, but you might as well have a little fun. I've been using mine to spot raccoons or to test the surface temperature of my grill. According to Seek and Flir, this is only the beginning. The technology will continue to get smaller, cheaper, and more powerful—and I'll be able to see a glowing world with vision like a tank commander's without giving up one of my eyeballs.


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