Written by: Rob Smith
Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras use special optics to display thermal images (i.e. meltdown videos). In recent years prices for non-military applications has steadily decreased to the point where we now have civilian systems which produce a very good image.
Enter the FLIR Company and their FLIR One camera systems for Android and IOS devices. The FLIR One uses proprietary MSX technology to combine a regular and thermal image into one composite image. It does this in a compact unit which currently retails for about $200.
The Following items are included in the box:
Two spacers (one for Galaxy S5 and another for other Android phones)
Two adapters, one reversible for IR selfies.
USB Charging cable
When you purchase the camera download the FLIR One App from the IOS App Store or Google Play (you might need to approve access to your storage location). When you use the app you will be prompted to create an account for warranty registration and receive updates about the application.
You can still download the app if you do not have the camera but the imaging portion of the app will not function.
Once the app is downloaded, ensure that the phone and camera are charged, turn on the camera and insert it into the micro USB slot. The application will automatically start and you are ready to take IR pictures. To take a photo press the photo button from the app (not the camera photo button). You will see the app swipe the photo to the side, indicating the photo was taken and ready to take a new picture.
At the top of the screen is the menu button which takes you to application menus. Next is the Spot Meter button (looks like crosshair) which will turn on a thermometer which can read temperatures from -4F to 248F. The flashlight icon will turn on a flashlight for use in low light situations. The stopwatch button activates 3 or 10 second timer (configurable by user). The battery level is for the FLIR One camera.
The current version of the software allows the user to change from photo, time lapse and video modes by sliding the mode at the bottom of the viewing screen.
Under the Settings menu you can chose from nine different color palettes (these are just a different way to view the IR images). You can also use the parallax menu to change the overlay of the two cameras (or superimpose one image next to the other).
Here are two pictured from my dryer, one in Iron and the other in Wheel (note the dryer vent signature through the wall).
When I first started using the camera on my phone (Motorola Droid Turbo II) it would constantly lock up. I found moderate success by clearing the cache and restarting. To be fair my phone was not listed as an approved phone (downside of using non-standard iPhone platform).
NOTE - In June of 2017 FLIR upgraded (overhauled) the app and it seems to be working fine now.
Two spacers are included with the camera and are designed to close the gap between the bottom of the phone and the top of the camera (if not using a case on your phone). Peel away the backing on the spacer to expose the glue which will allow you to attach the spacer to the camera. When I tested this on my phone there was still a little bit of a gap so I did not use them.
Two offset adapters are also included which move the position of the camera relative to the phone. One of the adapters reverses the camera so you can take IR Selfies. The photos below show the two different adapters.
When taking pictures I have noticed that this camera setup is not sensitive enough to take images through glass. I was in my living room taking images of items on the porch and notices that the IR images contained reflection on the glass door of items from inside the house.
Other reviews have indicated that the camera is not sensitive in low light situations. I have found this to be true. Using the flashlight button to activate the phone’s light provides a much clearer image. This is because the IR Camera is using both an IR and regular camera to take a composite image and the regular camera requires a moderate amount of light.
The micro USB charging cable can charge the camera or cellphone (you cannot charge the phone by connecting the charging cable to the camera and the camera to the phone).
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame:
FLIR camera for your cell Phone
Anyone who wants a FLIR camera without spending a lot of money.
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
Inexpensive way to take IR images.
FLIR MSX image software.
Can take pictures, video and time lapse video.
Has a countdown timer (3 or 10 seconds) when taking pictures
Nine different color palettes.
Can measure temperatures from -4F to 248F
Temperature can be displayed using the Spot Meter
Adapter can connect to your phone or tablet even if it is in a case.
FLIR One app is user friendly
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?
You can get it in any color you want as long as you want black.
What others are saying?:
The Good The Flir One's MSX tech mashes a regular and a thermal image together so you can see more than you would with a standalone raw thermal image.
The Bad While $250 is inexpensive when you consider the larger commercial thermal camera market, it still isn't a cheap mobile accessory. There aren't a ton of practical uses for the Flir One.
The Bottom Line Get the Flir One for its superior thermal imaging tech and overall ease of use, but be sure to consider specific, ongoing applications for this $250 accessory before you buy.
MSRP = $199.99
Retail = $289.98 at Amazon
I need it now! Availability:
FLIR One is a great gadget for your cell phone as well as a useful tool.
Cost effective way to take thermal images.
Camera can be used on different phones.
Automatic IR calibration
Nine different palettes to view the images.
FLIR has created several how-to videos with suggestions for using the camera.
Takes a lot of memory to run app and camera (seems to be better with the recent upgrade).
Camera is not sensitive enough to take images through glass or low light.
Camera has limited battery life (about 1 hour).
You have to be careful to avoid accidentally breaking the micro USB Connector.
Cannot use the camera to charge your phone.
Not for use in bad weather.
Score: 6.5 Okay