First the disclaimer.  I’m a long time fan and follower of  FLIR.  When I was in elementary school, my father would bring me issues of Aviation Week magazine and that’s where I first saw the acronym FLIR which stands for Forward Looking Infra Red and was part of an airborne sensor suite for military aircraft.   Fast forward to this century and I started seeing the FLIR company booth at various trade shows and saw that they had some thermal imaging products that could be considered consumer level.  The prices were still fairly high  ~$1000 and up but hey, at least you wouldn’t get glow in the dark eyeball cancer like from the cheap Eastern Bloc gear.  And the FLIR analytic grade gear, costing significantly more, is so much fun to look at too.

Well, about a year ago FLIR acquired Lorex, a leading consumer grade security products company.  And not coincidentally, at CES 2014 the first wave of clearly consumer-priced products from FLIR was announced.   The FLIR FX is a modular family of cameras and accessories and the FLIR ONE brings thermal imaging capability to the iPhone 5 and 5s.  The FX received a 2014 CES Innovations Design & Engineering Award.

Boy, what a mob scene at the FLIR booth this year – sardine packed in the booth and overflowing into the aisles.  Obviously $350 to get thermal imaging and extra battery capacity on your iPhone 5/5s or $250 for a full-featured video security/action cam with both cloud or direct WiFi connectivity plus a bunch of  modular accessories has that effect on people. GoPro watch out!

I’m on the Android side of the fence so I am not allowed to say nice things about Apple or iPhonies.  But I can say the FLIR MSX feature is impressive – it is an overlay of visible light imagery on the thermal image.  The in-booth example was being able to see the outline of same temperature signage text (via MSX) along with a fresh, hot hand print next to the thermally neutral text.

Thermal imaging is not just about seeing in total darkness.  By dynamically displaying the temperature of parts and surfaces, perhaps the greatest utility comes from being able to see the relative change in temp. across a part or an assembly of parts – is there excess friction or inadequate cooling?  (How’s your BBQ doing!  Is shaken really better than stirred?) And you can store still images and video of these temperature deltas for future reference.

Both these products will be out in Spring 2014.  And hopefully at CES 2015 FLIR will be announcing the ~$300 FLIR FX thermal imaging camera.  FLIR will be making yet another product announcement at the ShotShow in a few days so I’ll be posting another entry soon about that plus a bunch of tech details for both the FLIR FX and FLIR ONE.

www.flirsecurity.com   www.flirone.com  www.flir.com