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Infrared Photography – There’s an App for that.

Technical innovations appear to travel at the speed of light these days. One moment they are being used in the most elite military ranks, in the highest levels of central intelligence, or in academic research and development, and in the next, they are the latest app for cell phones everywhere.


Imagine your next phone equipped with thermal infrared photography. Babbage, a blog that reports on the ‘intersections between science and technology, culture and policy’, details this new development in cellular technology for the masses.


Thermal photography detects radiation, which is emitted by objects, making it possible to view your environment with or without light. This ‘night-vision’, as it is sometimes called, detects warm objects against the cool background, and displays the amount of infrared energy emitted, transmitted and reflected by an object.


“A thermal camera, in affect, is a thermometer that can take pictures.” The development of thermal photography, the blog continues, began with the US military and was first deployed during the Korean War. Images went viral during the Gulf War when nightly, via the evening news, we could see the accuracy with which military forces were using this night imagery. As with the laws of supply and demand, production volumes increased and costs decreased.


All around the world, people are using thermal photography for a myriad of purposes, and the quality of the high-resolution devices continues to increase. All players in the market have begun to develop the app for worldwide use, namely the affordable app for cell phones. Apple has teamed up with FLIR ONE, the latter being the ‘biggest firm in the infrared-imaging market’, to equip the iPhone with an integrated thermal imager.


What would you use this app for? A list of uses of infrared imaging, many from the FLIR website, are included here;


  • Firefighters – are able to see through smoke, which helps them find victims and the source of the fire.


  • Law enforcement – can find suspects in the dark.


  • Industrial – uses include power line maintenance, locating potentially dangerous overheating joints and parts.


  • Building – helps locate any insulation losses and building related defects, which can improve heating and air-conditioning efficiencies.


  • Border security – the app is able to see a man 20 km away in total darkness.


  • Commercial security – ports, airports, nuclear facilities and many more are using thermal cameras. For example, airlines used it during the SARS outbreak to identify passengers who might be at risk.


  • Cars – high-end models of Mercedes and Audi already offer thermal cameras to see pedestrians at night.


  • Maritime – use of the thermal cameras assist with night navigation, shipboard security and man-overboard situations.


‘FLIR Systems chief executive Andy Teich says that over 2,000 developers signed up to write apps for the FLIR ONE, covering a full range of traditional infrared imaging applications.’  Interestingly, there were a few left-handed ideas that nobody had previously thought of – any ideas of your own?


All of this soon to be available at the touch of your fingertips in your next new cell phone.  When you get it, give us a call at 1-800-361-0941!



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