FlirOne for your iPhone

FlirOne

FlirOneOne of the newest add on devices for an iPhone was recently released. It’s called the FlirOne, made by thermal imaging company Flir. Essentially it takes your iPhone and makes it a thermal imaging device for a fraction of the cost of a full size thermal camera that the military, law enforcement, fire services and even paranormal groups use.  There are so many great uses for the average person to use a device like this, it’s hard to imagine the demand wouldn’t be very high, at least initially. Some of these uses could be imaging your home for heat loss to help lower your bills, to look at your appliances for waste of energy, being able to image your car even to see if you have leaks you didn’t even know you had. Thermal cameras can even help diagnose injuries in pets or livestock. You can look for shorts in electrical wiring in panels or behind walls, and it can even detect water leaks in your home. Of course, the average user isn’t going to know how to use this tool to it’s fullest advantage without some education.

So all of these awesome, great methods to use this new tool and you’re wondering “Dave, what’s the catch?”. Well there are a few catches, and some are already being used against you. So even if you never buy one of these, you better be aware of how they really work and how they can be used against you. To start, let’s talk about how thermal cameras work. They see heat, and heat doesn’t go away instantly. For example, if you sit in a wooden (or metal, plastic, etc) chair for 5 minutes and get up, that thermal imprint will remain on the chair for up to another hour. If you walk down a hallway of doors and open a door, your hand print (in heat) will be there for quite some time. Why is all of this a problem? Sit back and continue reading.

First, let’s talk about something we already know has happened (it was caught on camera oddly enough). A FlirOne user was caught using his heat signature capturing the Pin code the person in line just typed in at a store checkout. While having just the pin code doesn’t do much, if he were to later snatch her purse (or be working with someone else that steals it) now he has that card and code. Here’s a story on the Good Housekeeping site, along with the image.  Another  issue is that Flir cameras use what is called color palettes.  However, depending on the palette used, a Flir can easily see through clothing. While there will be adults that don’t care if you can see through their clothes, the ability of a pedophile to see through the clothing of children is simply chilling. Examples can be found here.

Ok let’s talk about the ability to see the heat signatures on cars, knowing which drivers just left their vehicles for criminals to target them, to be able to see which door you walked through to spy on you, to determine how many people are in a room using thermal, and just so many more. Let’s not forget going to the ATM and pressing your pin code and the heat from your fingers staying there several minutes. As with the story from Good Housekeeping, allowing someone to see your numbers and then guessing your pin code.

As you can see, these are just a few of the security risks of having a thermal device in the hands of someone that shouldn’t have such a device. Not sure how you’d stop it, but being aware of how things work at least will cause you to think first. At least, I hope it does.

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