Seek Thermal – Thermal camera for your smart phone

Seek Thermal

Seek ThermalThis is a review of the Seek Thermal camera for your iPhone or Android smart phone. You can go to their site at www.thermal.com and read all the tech specs, so I’m not going to spend the time on those. I’m going to talk about just putting it in your hands and using it. What to consider, what your limitations will be that sort of thing. Let me start off by saying 5 years ago I went to become certified using thermal cameras, so I have experience with high end thermal cameras ($22K in price) all the way to the Seek Thermal camera ($199). I understand how to use different palettes, how to ensure you get the best quality photo/video from your thermal camera and how to review the imagery to evaluate what you’re seeing there. Ok, so enough with the resume, let’s talk about the camera itself.

I’ve had in in my possession for about 8 days at the time of this writing. I’ve used the camera for about 14 hours total plugged into several models of Android smart phones (I have not tested on an iPhone but cannot believe the experience would be vastly different) and I’ve put the camera in the hands of friends and family so they could also offer some input. Initially the reaction is “holy makeral, this thing is awesome”. After the 8 days, the reaction is “this thing is awesome, but I hope they make a few changes”. The real change needs to come with the Seek Thermal App, which we’ll discuss first. As with any app developed for smart phones, they always require some tweaks to either adapt to customer’s likes/dislikes or to account for technical weaknesses that didn’t show up in testing. My first issue with the app is a personal preference, but anyone that has ever used thermal imagery for a living, having the temperature scale as an available option on screen is a must. You’ll see a wide range of colors on your screen, but will have no reference to their specific temperature range. Sure, you can modify the app to show you only temps above/below/equal to a specific temp target, but that doesn’t really satisfy being able to look at an image later and deciphering what was going on. You could also have the camera show you a center point temp or the hottest and coldest spot on the image, but again this is one or two spots on the image.

The technical side of the app that seems to be lacking is that it will freeze and get a little “skittish at times. What I mean by that is that you’ll be using the camera and might do a sweep from side to side and the image on the screen will freeze then try to catch up. I also experienced some focus issues at a much shorter range than expected. This might read like an indictment against the Seek device, but in reality it isn’t unexpected. I’ve had my hands on $22k Flir cameras that also had shorter than expected focus points. In the end, this device at $199 is absolutely a must have for your home, business or whatever else you do. The reality is most of the issues here are app based problems that can be, and will be, rectified in updates.

Let’s take a few moments to talk about all the uses a thermal camera offers. You can search for temperature leaks in your home to better insulate and save money on energy costs or even track water leaks. You can also use this as security, to see what you can’t see in the dark, you can use it at night to see wild animals, you can use it in survival situations to track the path of your own footprints, or to see the heat signature of others or even to track effects of a disaster. You can also use this in the paranormal field, where many teams for years have wanted to have a thermal camera but could not afford the thousands of dollars just for an entry level camera. I’ve seen a thermal camera to look at an injured animal because the injury will show up as hot. I’ve even personally used a thermal to image a baby still in the womb of its mother. With a price tag of $199, you simply cannot lose with having this device in your possession. With that said though, once you order your Seek Thermal, be patient. They have a great product, and just didn’t expect the sheer volume of orders, so they fell behind in production some. They are ramping up to meet demand, and at the time of this writing, are more than likely close to resolving that issue, if not completely already. I can tell you that they took a beating by me when it came to emails and customer service contacts and they responded like a champ.

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