How many of you thought of getting that predator vision when watching 1987’s Predator in real life?
Or that night vision from your favorite FPS game? Most would still love to be excited to get one. That’s a thermal imaging view. And with smartphones bringing up advanced features, the thought, “can I use my phone as a thermal camera?” might have struck your mind.
Since you are here looking for a solution, you haven’t yet found one. What if you get more than one way to turn your phone into a thermal camera?
Wait! Control your nerves. Although it’s fun to have such a feature, let’s learn how to use it at home if not professionally.
Table of Contents
What is Thermal Imaging?
It is a useful technology that provides vision at night through heat sensing. Thermal imaging detects heat from objects including bodies of humans and animals.
And rather than producing the actual colors, thermal images show colors that represent different heat levels of the scene. For instance, red represents high temperature while blue is for coldness.
What are the Applications of Thermal Imaging?
Professionals use thermal imaging technology for search and rescue operations, non-contact testing, building inspection, security and law enforcement, etc. But its applications are not limited to first responders or similar professionals.
You can use it at home to detect gas leaks, enhance insulation and heating system efficiency, see better at night, find leaks, screen for termites, diagnose medical issues, and more.
But you don’t have a thermal imaging camera. And you might still be thinking, “How can I use my phone as a thermal camera?” Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find the answer.
Three Ways to Use Your Cellphone as a Thermal Camera
The right method for you depends on what you intend to use your cellphone as a thermal camera for.
You can use an app for basic tasks or fun or turn to add-on gadgets for a bit more professionalism. Let’s explore different ways to use your cellphone as a thermal camera.
Add a Thermal Imaging Camera to Your Phone
You can find different thermal imaging cameras that attach to your phone through the USB port. You can carry those small-sized add-on thermal cameras with your phone and do the job.
Here are some of the top thermal imaging cameras you can use with an Android or iOS smartphone.
- FLIR ONE: FLIR is a popular company known for making quality thermal imaging systems. One of its products, FLIR ONE, is a compact module that captures thermal signatures through its lens and stores them in a smartphone. Compatible with both Apple and Android smartphones, it can be easily attached to the phone. It captures the thermal image as well as the visible spectrum’s dark edges. Then, it combines both to give you a clear look at the image without requiring a manual comparison. However, FLIR ONE doesn’t provide the best resolution but is still worthy. And the camera works as a separate device with a dedicated battery that you will need to charge separately.
- Seek Thermal Compact Camera: It’s another handy thermal camera you can use to capture thermal images. But it only works with an iPhone. You can connect the Seek Thermal Compact Camera to your Apple phone through the lighting connector. This camera offers a higher resolution and more functionality than the FLIR ONE. It has four modes of operation. It includes a traditional mode for regular camera function and a temperature mode to detect the temperature at a particular spot. The third one is a threshold mode wherein the camera clicks a thermal image based on a pre-determined temperature range. The fourth one is the high-low mode. Unlike FLIR ONE, it uses the smartphone battery as its power source.
Using a Thermal Camera App
You will need the respective thermal imaging apps to connect the above-listed cameras to your phone.
But some apps don’t need a dedicated device. Instead, they use a thermal filter to produce results good enough for fun and basic DIY projects.
- Thermal Camera FX: This one’s a popular infrared camera app that also made it to the 500 unique products list. It has earned recognition for its features allowing real-time capturing of videos and photos and showing their temperatures. In addition, it also enables converting regular images to infrared (thermal) formats using digital filters. In addition, it also allows for capturing photos in the dark by using a flashlight. The app is available for both Android and iOS smartphones.
- Night Vision Flashlight Thermo: Another popular smartphone app, Night Vision Flashlight Thermo deploys unique filters to capture images with a real-time thermal camera effect. In addition to thermal sensing, you can also use the app for capturing photos in the dark using the IR night vision mode. Keep in mind that the app produces only thermal simulations and not real thermal imaging. This app is available for iOS devices only.
Remodeling Your Smartphone’s Camera
If you are not confident or professional, don’t attempt this approach. Since this can damage your smartphone’s camera or the phone itself, you can try this on an old phone first.
A smartphone camera setup comprises lenses, sensor plate, and other devices for the camera lens assembly.
There’s an IR filter in this lens assembly that prevents the camera from capturing IR radiations. So, if you can remove the IR filter without damaging the smartphone’s camera setup, you will get a thermal camera.
Since this involves the risk of damaging the camera (even the phone), you shouldn’t try it just for fun. And if you still wish to proceed, you can ask for a professional to support you or try hands on an old phone first.
Is there a free thermal camera app?
Yes! There are free as well as paid thermal camera apps depending on the features you want. You can download companion apps of thermal camera add-ons like Seek Thermal (iOS) and FLIR ONE (Android, iOS) for free.
Plus, you can also download apps like Thermal Camera FX (Android, iOS) and Night Vision Flashlight Thermo (iOS) for free. However, these apps might have some paid features inside.
To conclude, your question “Can I use my phone as a thermal camera?” has three answers. Now, depending on your desired use of this feature, you can opt for an add-on camera or a standalone app.