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RICOH had a nice elevated platform in their ShotShow booth to better try out their range of optical gear.  They had several sets of NV-10A digital color binoculars which have P.A.I.R. technology to help see through marginal atmospheric conditions such as fog, rain and snow.  P.A.I.R. stands for “PENTAX Atmospheric Interference Reduction” and seems to be a real-time image  enhancement/processing software filter.  The NV-10A also has near infra-red capability for low light conditions.

Here’s the specs: 6.6 to 13.2 magnification, 5 m minimal focus range, manual focus/zoom, ~80 min. battery life (uses RICOH BT-10 batteries), 800×600 pixel color organic EL display panel/viewing screen,  1 SD memory card slot to record 720 x480 30fps video or stills with GPS location tagging, electronic compass, image stabilization,  date/time logging, IP64 water/dust proofing, grippy rubber surfaces, weight ~3lb / 1.4 kg.   See for more details and extreme condition viewing examples.

It’s expected to have a ~$4k price tag when it becomes available late Winter in N. America.   The target market is more .gov, security agency, maritime vs the consumer Sony DEV-50.

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.

Wait wait…don’t tell me! Who knew National Public Radio had an R&D department.  Besides developing a variety of radio signal analysis tools for station operators, NPR Labs collaborated with Catena Radio Design to develop an FM radio receiver for deaf people that would enable text display of emergency radio broadcasts.   It is called the “Nipper One” and it is currently being pilot tested in the Gulf Coast region.  The emergency warning text is sent to the display PC or Android device through a USB cable.   More details to come on this product from the “Bell Labs of NPR.”

On a less serious note, how much geek cred would you give to an NPR Labs  t-shirt?  Check out this artist’s depiction of said garment.  What a fine conversation starter this shirt would be.

To be clear – this shirt is currently just a figment of my imagination.  We  need to politely pester the good folks at NPR to add this item to the NPR Shop.  You can email the NPR Shopkeeper via the link at the bottom of this page. Maybe ask for “Ask Me Another” Rubik’s Cubes too?

Relief Pod Extreme Storage

Relief Pod Extreme Storage

The Relief Pod is a multi-purpose container primarily intended for professional disaster response efforts. It is a rigid polymer shell roughly the length and width of a stretcher and a bit over a foot high.  (87″ x 29″ x 14″ or  221 x 74 x  36 cm)   They state that you can store 6 days worth of emergency supplies for 12 people in one Relief Pod.

It has padded aluminum carrying poles that run the entire length but also retract flush at each end.  There are multiple molded hand grab/lash down openings around the edges.  It has wheels on one end so it can also be moved about like a wheelbarrow.   The top surface is padded with closed cell foam for use as a bench, cot or stretcher and there are 4 webbing straps to secure either the patient or to lash down other items.  There is a mesh panel pocket on one end for quick access to small items.

You open and close the Relief Pod with wing turn latches and end up with 2 ~44 inch long halves.   By using this geometry, the Relief Pod is much more rigid and less likely to leak.   In fact, there is a gasket at that seam as well as a pressure equalization valve so you can open it should the pressure drop inside.   It also has a water valve at one end so you can use it as a water storage container

And yes, it floats.  On there are pictures of several Relief Pods (RP) tied together and used as a raft.   An empty RP weighs about 70 pounds (32kg) and has about 1000 pounds (450kg) of buoyancy.  Be warned – should you use the RP as a camp bed near a body of water, your mates may prank you by carrying you upon the RP down to the water and setting you adrift.   If this were the movies, you’d awake in the middle of a beautiful lake and then tip over and awake with a huge splash.  So chain it to an immovable object before going beddy bye or risk going on a 3 hour tour.  By illogical extension, how about grabbing a paddle and racing your RP?  Shoot the rapids?  Catch some tasty waves? Take on Niagara Falls?  Sled down Everest?

Seriously though, picture this – 2 RP halves, stocked with camping or emergency supplies and stacked on top of each other in your garage.  (Full RPs also nest/stack)   When you need that smaller version of your stuff, you load the RPs and Thunderbirds are Go.  If you need more than one, be informed that RPs come in different colors and you can stack assembled RPs 4 high. A promising accessory in development are rigid end cover panels so you can seal each half of an RP when they are not latched together.

Relief Pod also have a variety of compact safety/survival kits.  They are very well thought out, organized in color-coded sections and are packed in stylish pouches, satchels or backpacks.  Some are optimized for comfort or urban situations.  Others are for emergencies with more first aid and survival items and fewer toiletries.

Some even have packets of “lifeboat” water and rations.  A few decades ago I tried some “lifeboat ration” and it looked like a dense brick of oatmeal/granola soaked in molasses. I guess if you have nothing else even raw seagull aka  “Haggis of the Sea” would be yummy.  Well modern technology and the Mainstay company have brought us a life boat ration that closely resembles tasty Danish Butter or Shortbread cookie in taste, texture and color but with impressive warm temperature shelf life. And that’s what the RP kits have so hey nonny nonny see Haggis jerky no more.   You can see many more product details and specs, including several videos, on