Here’s the thing:
You can capture images that your naked eye can’t see or your ordinary camera can’t capture.
How? Use a thermal imaging camera for Android.
Yes, it sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, but it’s real.
Ever dreamed of catching a mystery object that’s hiding in the darkness? Or clearly seeing whether your water tubes have microscopic holes in them?
With thermal imaging, you can answer the abovementioned questions with a resounding yes.
You can do other things as well: investigating fire accidents, detecting leaky pipes, finding lost objects…the list goes on. Speaking of such things, you might also be interested to use your Android phone as a security camera.
Curious, isn’t it?
But what is it and how does it work? Let’s find out…
What Is a Thermal Imaging Camera?
A thermal imaging camera is a type of thermographic camera that uses infrared radiation. It detects areas of heat behind walls or other solid objects. It can also check whether the circuit breaker is overloaded or if the water channels have a leak.
But how does it work?
It captures images differently from ordinary cameras. It captures and detects heat signatures. Each object emits an infrared radiation or heat signature. This radiated heat varies from object to object. That’s why you’ll see a palette of colors, ranging from red, yellow, orange, blue, and other colors.
A thermal imaging camera is equipped with a thermal sensor that picks up this radiated heat and captures them as images.
Related: Best Android Camera Smartphones
A Brief History on Thermal Imaging
The history of thermal imaging goes back to the year 1800 C.E. when Sir William Herschel discovered infrared radiation. Eighty years later, a topnotch inventor named Samuel Pierpoint Langley created the bolometer, which is a thermometer that uses infrared radiation.
In the early 20th century, thermal imaging gained momentum because of its role in military activities in World War II. When the Hungarian physicist Kálmán Tihanyi made the first-ever IR camera in 1929, the British troops used it to detect warplanes.
Tech companies EEV and Philips became interested in this innovation and made a device that helps firefighters locate flames despite smoke, darkness, or heat-permeable barriers. FLIR also joined the bandwagon and created a thermal imaging camera for vehicles.
What Can Thermal Imaging Be Used For?
Aside from military officers and firefighters, thermal imaging cameras are also beneficial for those whose jobs are related to building or house construction. They can easily spot leaks on water tubes or detect which areas need more insulation.
Cops can also use a thermal imaging camera in their manhunt operations because it lets them spot a suspect hiding in the dark. Pest control professionals can locate pest ingress and the pests themselves.
If you’re a regular office worker, thermal imaging devices can easily detect when your boss is coming to the office before he’s there. This comes in handy if you don’t want him to catch you doing non-work related things on your desk.
Kidding aside, a thermal imaging camera is no doubt one beneficial gizmo for the military and civilians alike.
Related: Home Security Camera Systems
Why You Should Use an Android-based Thermal Imaging Camera
The original thermal imaging camera is a standalone device that doesn’t need to pair with mobile handsets. However, with the increase of the smartphone’s popularity, some makers decided to integrate the thermal camera’s functionality to our beloved Android phone.
The thermal camera for Android combines value and portability in one. Standalone thermal cameras usually cost thousands of dollars while Android-based ones are notably cheaper. Plus, the latter option is small enough to be placed anywhere.
It’s a no-brainer to think that the cheaper thermal camera for Android would not exceed the quality the standalone cameras offer. At the very least, they don’t compromise the quality to the point that they become inaccurate and unuseful.
Another benefit of having a thermal imaging camera for Android is that you can send the heat index information to anyone almost immediately. Good value for money, easy portability, and automatic data sharing – these are sensible reasons enough to get a thermal camera for Android.
What Makes the Best Thermal Camera for Android?
To help you decide which is the best thermal camera for Android, you have to consider these factors:
High Thermal Camera Resolution
First and foremost, you should consider the thermal camera resolution of the device. Please note that the thermal camera resolution is different from the display resolution.
Remember this rule: The higher the thermal camera resolution is, the more accurate the measurements and sharper the images will be.
Wide Temperature Range
The aforementioned rule also applies here: The higher the temperature range, the better. If you plan to use the thermal camera at work, you should settle for a device that can handle -40 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit of heat.
For home use, a thermal imaging camera with -14 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit capacity will do. It can still detect minor stuff like water leaks and costs cheaper.
Android Phone Compatibility
You should be looking for a thermal camera that supports a lot of Android phones and most importantly, one that is compatible with your smartphone. It would be useless to purchase a thermal imaging camera that you can’t pair with your device.
Of course, there’s no certain price range that these products must be in. However, most of the Android-based thermal cameras don’t exceed 1 thousand dollars, while some of them are even priced lower than 500 hundred bucks. Looking at the features they can offer, you should know whether one is priced reasonably.
3 Best Thermal Imaging Camera for Android
There are several Android-based thermal imaging cameras available in the market. However, we decided to narrow it down to the best thermal imagers, those produced by among the trusted makers of thermal cameras, such as FLIR and SEEK.
Here they are.
FLIR ONE Pro
FLIR can be considered an expert in making thermal cameras given its long history in the field. The latest one FLIR has to offer, the FLIR ONE Pro, didn’t fail to impress us. Without a doubt, it’s the best thermal camera for Android from FLIR.
- 1440 x 1080 visual resolution
- Accurate temperature measurement from a distance (-4F to 752 F)
- Enhanced video and image processing (MSX and VividIR)
- Battery life: approximately 1 hour
Thermal Camera Resolution
The FLIR ONE Pro’s thermal camera resolution is said to be 160 x 120 pixels, which is quite higher than most standard thermal cameras in the market.
When it comes to the temperature range, the FLIR ONE Pro can read temperatures as high as 752 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect for industrial uses and heavy-duty usage.
It is compatible with Android phones having USB Type-C connectors. However, it doesn’t support devices with Snapdragon 835 or Snapdragon 845 chipsets including Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel 2 XL, Nokia 8, OnePlus 5T, Razer Phone, Sony XZ, and Xiaomi Mi 6.
Note: For commercial purposes only. For non-US military end-user and controlled under US regulations.
SEEK Thermal XR
SEEK Thermal is another company that specializes in creating thermal imaging cameras. Their best product right now is the SEEK Thermal XR. Just like the FLIR ONE Pro, it deserves our attention and appreciation.
- 206 x 156 thermal sensor
- Detection Range of -40F° to 626°F
- Focusable Lens
- 9 Color Palettes
- < 9 Hz Frame
- Includes free waterproof case
Thermal Camera Resolution
The SEEK Thermal XR offers a detailed thermal camera resolution of 206 by 156 pixels. As you can see, this one’s higher than that of the FLIR ONE Pro.
The thermal imaging camera from SEEK can detect temperatures from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 626 degrees Fahrenheit.
It makes use of micro-USB and is compatible with most Android devices running Android 4.3 or higher OS. It pairs with Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, 3, and 4, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, Motorola Moto X (1st and 2nd gen), and Motorola Moto G.
Therm-App Compact Thermal Imager
If you’re looking for a professional-level thermal camera, check out this compact thermal camera from Therm-App. It is highly capable, professional, and innovative. With this handheld and durable device, you can take accurate images and temperature measurements on the go. You can also easily and quickly share the images and/or videos.
- 384 x 288 image quality
- Auto and manual temperature scales
- Threshold cold/hot marking
- Multiple-color palettes
- Instant sharing and streaming
- Low power consumption
Thermal Camera Resolution
It has a high image quality at 384 x 288 pixels. It’s higher than the FLIR ONE Pro and the SEEK Thermal XR.
Its measurement accuracy is +/-2°C (up to 200°C).
Therm-App thermal imagers are compatible with most Android devices that run on Android 4.1 or higher, and those that support USB OTG.
If you’re looking for entry-level thermal cameras, we recommend the FLIR and SEEK thermal imaging cameras. However, if you’re here to get a professional-level for more detailed inspections, then Therm-App is a great choice.
But since its professional-level, expect more pricing. By how much? Expect triple or more than the pricing of FLIR and SEEK Android-based thermal imagers.
FAQs About Thermal Camera for Android
Can thermal imaging cameras see through walls?
No, such cameras can’t see through walls. They don’t have a way of detecting or picking up the heat of objects found on the other side of the wall.
Can a thermal camera detect water leaks?
Yes, a thermal camera can detect water leaks. It does so by detecting subtle differences in temperature. In fact, it’s one of the many uses of a thermal camera: to detect water leaks.
How does a thermal imaging camera work?
Basically, this camera works by picking up infrared radiation or heat signatures from objects and create an electronic image based on it. The colors vary depending on the differences in temperature emitted by each object.
Thermal imaging cameras aren’t just a thing for military officers, construction-related workers, firefighters, or pest control professionals; all of us can make use of this breakthrough. Whatever it is that you want to check, may it be a circuit breaker or a water tube, a thermal camera proves to be the perfect device for the task.
Spending a few hundred bucks on a thermal imaging camera won’t hurt if you really need it to accomplish an important job. With the aid of your Android phone, using a thermal camera will be so easier and less complicated.
Have you tried using a thermal imaging camera on your Android phone? If not, are you planning to try one? Share your experiences in the comment section below!