Teledyne FLIR has been making high-end thermal imaging technology for a long time, but the FLIR One cameras for smartphones may be one of the most revolutionary product it’s ever produced. IR itself has been a revolution for water damage restoration, but even this innovation often left technicians and others lugging large, expensive pieces of equipment with advanced features that went unused in simple daily work.
Enter the FLIR One IR camera line, which brought Teledyne FLIR’s trusted experience in thermal imaging to the world of mobile phones. Yet, somehow, it uses the same advanced technology as larger units, providing the full power of thermal imaging in a tiny, affordable package.
As Teledyne FLIR’s Global Business Development Manager Rob Milner puts it, past contractors “were hesitant to equip their technicians with thermal cameras because of the expense. The price point and ease of use of the smartphone thermal cameras has changed that equation.”
Smartphones also provide an active data connection so technicians can easily send photos to coworkers, and they provide their own screen, processor, and storage, so the unit’s cost can stay low. Being tiny, the FLIR One camera can stay on technicians for longer, even when there’s no specific reason to expect to need to take IR imagery – meaning unexpected calls are easier and quicker to manage.
But the development of such a revolutionary “ultrasmall” infrared imaging sensors did not happen overnight, beginning all the way back when Teledyne FLIR introduced the first commercial infrared camera in 1960. FLIR One is just one of the most recent in a long line of time and hassle-reducing features from the company; along the way, Teledyne FLIR has also introduced MSX, or multi-spectral dynamic imaging, as a tool. This creates a combined image with elements from a thermal image and a standard photo, making the thermal data less abstract and more easily understood in the real physical space.
One huge further point is that Teledyne FLIR cameras produce radiometric JPEG images, which have all the compatibility of a regular JPEG image but with additional thermal data associated with each pixel in the file. This means that FLIR One’s images can be just as powerful and just as widely usable as those from larger IR devices.
Milner points out that, “the ability to capture a high bit depth radiometric image, while in the same file incorporating an easy to share/use jpeg makes our systems easy to integrate with third party software packages.” That means RocketPlan – that very same ease of integration is how RocketPlan was able to make FLIR imagery into a pillar of the platform.
In fact, the main challenge for Teledyne FLIR in creating the FLIR One cameras was not even in miniaturizing the technology, but in diving into the complexities of enabling world-class radiometry and image processing in a mobile app for a consumer platform like iOS. With the company’s extensive experience in IR camera hardware, it was the new paradigm for software integration and control that offered the hardest challenge.
Still, FLIR has proven worth the effort, bringing together professional-level IR image quality with consumer-level ease of use.