If you ever day dream about becoming a super hero who can see in the dark, through walls, ceilings and more, the FLIR ONE thermal imaging camera will make you feel like you that super power. Just plug it into your iPhone or Android phone and you’ll be able to see objects that give off heat even when it’s completely dark or the object is in a wall or ceiling. FLIR sent me the Android version of the FLIR ONE. It’s take it for a spin.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
What’s in the box
FLIR ONE thermal camera with micro USB connector
micro USB charging cable
Quick start guide
The FLIR ONE is a small plug-in thermal imaging device that is available in two versions. There’s an iOS version with a Lightning connector and an Android version which has a micro USB connector. I was sent the Android version.
The FLIR ONE has a plastic case with dual cameras on the front. One lens is the visible light camera and the other one is the thermal camera.
The Android version has a QR code next to the connector. I thought that scanning this code would take me to the Google Play store to download the required app, but it doesn’t do much of anything useful.
On one side of the camera is the power button which also has a status LED that blinks when the camera is powered on.
The opposite side has a micro USB port that is used to charge the camera’s internal battery. There’s a small LED next to the micro USB port which blinks as an indication that the battery is charging. The battery can be charged in less than an hour and lasts for about one hour before needing a recharge. Since it has a micro USB connector, it should be possible to attach a backup battery while it’s being used to extend the battery life. I didn’t have a backup battery to test this theory, but I did connect a micro USB cable attached to my computer while the FLIR ONE was also attached to my phone. It was able to function normally while also charging.
Included with the FLIR ONE is a snap-on protective cover.
To use the camera, you first charge the batteries. Then you download and install the free FLIR ONE app. When the app is launched it will prompt you to attach the camera and power it on. FYI: The micro USB connector is long enough that it may allow you to use the camera with a thin case on the phone.
The app’s interface is very simple. It provides a live view from the FLIR ONE camera. A filter can be applied to the view to help you see different details such as hot spots and cold spots. From the app you can snap a picture or capture video.
The FLIR ONE uses technology called MSX stitching which takes a thermal and a regular image at the same time and superimposes them together so you can see an outline of various objects. You can also scroll the image up to see the visible image behind the thermal image.
In addition to snapping regular photos, you can also take panorama photos and time-lapse video. There’s even a timer which provides a 3 or 10-second delay.
The app will also allow you to see an estimated temperature of the subject. The temperature data is saved along with the snapshot so that you can go back into the saved images and check the temperature of different areas of the image just by moving the cursor around the screen. Just be aware that the temperature data is an estimate and probably won’t be 100% accurate. I found the readings be off by several degrees when compared to my IR thermometer.
The app is also supposed to capture GPS location data but for some reason it thought I was located in China.
The camera does a self-calibration every 30 seconds or so, which can sometimes make the preview view freeze for a few seconds. This is not a huge issue, but it’s something to be aware of so that you don’t think the app has crashed.
It’s amazing to see how much heat we put off. My hands are usually pretty cold most of the time, so I was surprised to see my hand print clearly defined on the arm of my chair after only resting there for a couple of seconds.
In the image above, the FLIR ONE shows the difference between a glass of ice water on the left and a glass of hot water on the right. Cool huh? I was able to see the air ducts in my walls because they showed up dark blue while the air conditioner was running. I was also able to see a critter in the woods one night that was investigating the area where we throw our table scraps. I was disappointed that I didn’t see a bigfoot in the woods or any ghosts wandering around the house. 🙂
The FLIR ONE thermal camera is a lot of fun to play with, but it can be used for more than just goofing around. It can be used as a diagnostic and detection tool to help you find drafts, water leaks, electrical panel problems, etc. The price may seem expensive, but when compared with other thermal cameras which can be thousands of dollars, the FLIR ONE is really affordable.
Larry and Scott asked about how how the FLIR performs with distant objects so I did a quick test.
I live on a long gravel road so in the first image above the person is about 12-15 feet from me. In the second picture they are 30 feet away and in the last image they are probably 100 feet down the road. Hope this helps.