Thermal Image Viewing
There is no doubt that the photographic ability built into the latest smartphones have improved compared to the models that were on offer over the last couple of years. However I have yet to see an influx of smartphones offering the Alien-like X-ray ability to visualise thermal images of various scenes. While this lack of functionality to see this type of imagery might not be regarded as an inconvenience by some users, others could find it a major handicap not to have this particular ability. This is especially true for those working in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) areas or those who are an active DYIer. This category of user would benefit from the FLIR ONE solution which is the subject of this review,
The FLIR ONE product is a small camera unit that attaches to a smartphone and provides thermal imaging technology to present a different outlook on scenes. Versions of this product are available in various formats for use with either an iOS or Android device. My review is based on the FLIR ONE Pro product attached to an Android smartphone.
Weighing just over 36g, the FLIR ONE Pro is a small device that is attached to a smartphone. It has dimensions of 68 x 34 x 14mm (W x H x D) and is eminently portable. It can easily be slipped into a pocket or bag, with or without the supplied carry case, for when not in use. Providing the means of connection is a USB type C plug positioned on the front side of the unit. Located on the opposite side are a power on/off button, LED charge indicator and USB type C port for charging the unit’s internal battery using the bundled lead. Thermal and visual lenses are situated on the front of the device. The use of USB type C connections does mean that the FLIR ONE device can be attached so that the lenses are pointing forwards or backwards.
Prior to attaching the FLIR ONE Pro to an iOS or Android smartphone, you should download and install the appropriate app from the App Store or Google Play. My first attempt at downloading the app onto an Android smartphone proved unsuccessful as a message appeared stating that the app was not compatible with the WileyFox handset Android 7.1 smartphone. Switching to a Huawei Mate 9, running Android 7, was more successful and the appropriate app was installed. Further tests revealed that a couple of offer smartphones I had access to, were also not compatible with the device.
As part of the app’s installation routine you will be given the opportunity to join the FLIR ONE community, allow the app to access photos, media and files plus grant permission for the saving and loading of images captured by the device. You can then sign up for a free FLIR Cloud account. The creation of this account did cause a slight problem in my case. You will need to activate the account by responding to an email but this important fact failed to appear on my test system. It was not until I was checking my emails later that I discovered the relevant message and was able to activate the account and make progress with the app.
Firing up the app without the FLIR ONE device attached to the smartphone brings up a message reminding you to make the necessary attachment to the smartphone. The handyman can then view images of where problems might exist within a construction. Checks can be made for air leaks, water leaks or electrical shorts and even more general structural issues with the images being presented on the smartphone’s screen.
The FLIR ONE interface on the app is sandwiched between wide black bars containing the various available options. At the top are icons for a slide menu (more on this a little later), torch facility to illuminate dark areas, timer, calibration and battery. The bar at the bottom of the screen contains options to switch between still images, video and time lapse modes plus icons representing your gallery of images, capture and image control settings.
The slide menu, mentioned a little earlier, reveals options to switch to camera view or gallery of captured images arranged by date. Links are provided to various FLIR ONE apps, some of which require an additional payment. You can also adjust settings relating to Emissivity, Image rotation, Temperature and the view appearing at start-up. Further adjustments and setting selections can be made from the image controls feature in the bottom right corner of the interface. Here you will find options identified as Visible, MSX, Thermal, Palettes, IR Scale, Lock Span and Parallax. There is also an option for Selfie Mode but this seemed to make no different whether it was activated or not whichever way I attached the FLIR ONE device using the USB type C unit.
The FLIR ONE Pro is a specialist piece of equipment that will not appeal to everybody. I found the setting up of this equipment was a little problematic especially the non-appearance of a message advising the need to activate the account before use. However the results that can be achieved using this product could well prove useful and help identify possible problems. Currently Amazon.co.uk has the product available listed at £399.99 which does reflect its professional status.
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