Thermal Imaging Camera Competition (FLIR ONE vs SEEK Thermal)

Hey guys i have been keeping an eye on the thermal imaging market trends.  Recently FLIR launched their new thermal imaging camera for the iphone 5!!  Thermal cameras traditionally sell for thousands of dollars for even an entry level unit but with the introduction of the FLIR ONE thermal camera these prices are being challenged.  The FLIR ONE is designed for the iphone 5 and retails for $350.  Well now FLIR has some competition!!  Seek thermal has just launched (9/25/2014) there thermal imaging camera for android and iphone which will retail for $200.  Some specs  of each below.....

FLIR ONE:  http://www.flir.com/flirone/

  • Fits iphone 5 and 5s only (it is designed to mount to a supplied i phone cover)
  • Thermal image resolution???? (uses their Lepton thermal camera)
  • Uses FLIR's thermal mixing (basically its the thermal image with a visible light image overlay to better outline the actual image)

Seek Thermal:  http://thermal.com/index.html

  • Available with either a standard iphone connector or with a micro USB connector (see their website for compatibility)
  • Thermal image resolution:  206 x 156 Array (uses the Vanadium Oxide Micro Bolometer)
  • 32136 pixels
  • No thermal mixing as in the FLIR ONE 

 

Seek Press Release:  http://thermal.com/img/press-assets/release/seek_thermal_pr_9-25-24...

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Comment by Bill Piedra on October 16, 2014 at 5:48am

This is a fantastic development.  Combined with an on board computer like a Beaglebone or Odroid U3 this could be a total game changer.  I wonder how hard it would be to send the FLIR imaging to a groundstation via 4G LTE? 

Comment by John Hestness on October 18, 2014 at 8:24am

I received a nicely worded delay letter from Seek this week:

We are sorry we have not shipped your Seek Thermal order in the time we originally expected. First and foremost, we would like to sincerely apologize for the delays and for any frustration this may be causing you.

Unfortunately, it took us longer to get our apps in the app stores than we anticipated. We did not want to ship cameras before the companion apps were available. This delay created a significant backlog of orders, plus a brief component shortage temporarily halted production. However, as of this week we are ramping up production and once again shipping Android cameras. We will likewise begin shipping Apple cameras once our app has been approved in iTunes, hopefully very soon.

Our top priority is getting all of these orders fulfilled as quickly as possible in the next few weeks.

Regards,
Seek Thermal Team.

I have had the app on my phone for a couple of weeks already. I will keep posting updates.

Comment by John Hestness on October 25, 2014 at 1:59pm

I have a Seek Thermal and it is working.  

So far I like it.  I will do some more testing after dark tonight.  Here is a picture of my desk this morning with a coffee and a laptop.  The biggest issue I have noticed is the 2 to 3 second latency of the camera.  So it is probably OK for collecting data but not really for FPV flying.  Here is a link to a short daytime video.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD5BEfPlarA

Comment by John Hestness on October 26, 2014 at 7:42pm

I took some photos last night and it was very dark out. My friend was standing about 75 feet away (the distances are not identical) and I could not see him at all with the naked eye.  However he showed up very clearly on my cell phone using the Seek thermal.  My impression is that this would work for many projects.  As I mentioned the latency is an issue, but I can imagine starting the app in the video mode and then scanning an area with an aerial vehicle and analyzing the data later. I will try to do so in the coming weeks. This is one picture each in black is hot, white is hot, and false color modes. The device comes in a nice box and includes a nice pocket size storage case. I know they are still working on the software/app because it wasn't working on my phone until the update on Friday. 



 

Comment by Gary McCray on October 26, 2014 at 8:37pm

Hi John,

Excellent Actual use photos, definitely good for spotting people or animals at night even with latency.

It would be nice if rather than connecting to smart phone if it could connect to a video transmitter for real time transmission to a GCS even with latency however.

Resolution looks quite usable and certainly capable of detecting type of subject.

Seems like it should be very useful in search and rescue, at least if who you are looking for is still alive.

Also for fire spotting or hot spot pin pointing.

An incredible price breakthrough for potentially very valuable applications.

Best Regards,

Gary

Comment by Dom on October 27, 2014 at 3:19am

This would be AWESOME for wildlife work, doing population studies etc.  The current method of taking photos from a plane (or more recently UAVs) and then trying to count animals that usually blend in fairly well to their surroundings is prone to error.  Strapping one of these to the bottom of a quiet UAV that is able to fly quietly at say 50ft without disturbing the animals would revolutionise the cost of doing accurate studies like this.  But thermal imaging at sufficient resolution and weight to be of any use for this application have always been way to expensive.

My main question with this is having to strap a (usually very expensive) smartphone to the UAV to drive this - I wonder if it can be done with a cheaper, more controllable alternative.  Say a BBB running android maybe?  If it was possible to hook it up to say a raspberry, that would be even better.

Comment by Jake Stew on October 27, 2014 at 8:58pm

Androids are cheap.  You can get a beater for under $50.

The problem is more likely going to be the lag.  Any more info on that?  Does it still happen if you're just recording or otherwise not displaying the video?

It would be pretty tough to get off a good shot with a 3 sec. lag.

Comment by John Hestness on October 28, 2014 at 7:01pm

@Jake, using an old android phone might or might not work because right now only certain phones are supported, but they are still working on the software, I hope there will be many options in the future (hint to developers).  So like Dom said you will probably be attaching your valuable cell phone to an aircraft and taking off.  I for one will make sure I have a working RTL function, among other backups.

The delay (latency) of the image being processed is not really an issue if you use the video mode (which works pretty good already) and view it after the fact. 

This is like having an ability that most of us didn't have before.  And it is only the beginning.

Comment by John G. on October 29, 2014 at 8:51pm

Nice work John. Curious to see what it looks like in the air.

Comment by Ray on December 24, 2014 at 11:35pm

Always wanted something like this, bought a Seek and it was delivered early December.....

My new Android phone is running Kitkat 4.4 (the phone has to use 4.3 or better) so should be good to go - downloaded the app and nothing.  Zero. not even an LED on the cam to indicate power or no.

Emailed the Seek Thermal folks and got a quick reply, "you may need this little cord, some phones don't output power to the USB" and a link to Amazon to buy one.

Well that sucks, but fair enough, they can't be responsible if the phone is limited.  Bought two different power inserter cords to be safe, and two power packs.

Nothing, zero, nada.

Lots'O'power but the app just still says 'insert camera'.

I guess I'm gonna have to wait for the app to catch up with the hardware, but it still sux!

Ray

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