Miniature $199 smartphone IR camera by Seek Thermal has microbolometer array, chalcogenide optics

Sept. 26, 2014
Seek Thermal (Santa Barbara, CA) has unveiled the Seek thermal camera, a miniature long-wave infrared (LWIR) camera with a resolution of 206 x 156 pixels that plugs into the bottom of a smartphone (the Lightning connector port for an iPhone, or the microUSB port for an Android phone) and draws its power from the phone.

Seek Thermal (Santa Barbara, CA) has unveiled the Seek thermal camera, a miniature long-wave infrared (LWIR) camera with a resolution of 206 × 156 pixels that plugs into the bottom of a smartphone (the Lightning connector port for an iPhone, or the microUSB port for an Android phone) and draws its power from the phone.

One indication of how serious Seek Thermal is about this product: the company's website is simply thermal.com (or, equivalently, www.thermal.com).

The product directly competes with the $350 iPhone thermal camera produced by FLIR (Wilsonville, OR); the FLIR product is actually a custom case for the phone that has an IR camera integrated into it.

At the heart of the Seek thermal camera is a vanadium oxide microbolometer array with a 12 µm pixel pitch, along with chalcogenide glass optics; the sensor is sensitive over a 7.2 to 13 µm band (equivalent to temperatures of -40 to 330 °C). The camera has a magnesium housing that helps to keep its weight down to 0.5 ounce. 

Uses include identifying thermal leaks, home security, nature watching or hunting at night, and even checking the yard for coyotes after dark before letting your pet out.

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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