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Inventor turns Apple iPhone into thermal imaging camera

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Inventor turns Apple iPhone into thermal imaging camera
Dawson's 64 zone sensor hooks up to the iPhone's dock connector

Dawson's 64 zone sensor hooks up to the iPhone's dock connector

Here's an invention that you don't see every day. Modder Andy Rawson needed a thermal imaging camera for his house. Rawson had purchased a 100 year old home and needed to find the source of  hot and cold spots in his home. Normally, such a device would cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. To save money, Dawson decided to build his own unit, and invented a 64 zone sensor that hooks up to an Apple iPhone to produce readings over the handset's touchscreen. The 64 zone sensor connects to the smartphone via the connector dock. Rawson says he is working on a version for the Android OS and wants to make a business out of selling these devices for about $150.

For those who are into all things DIY, Rawson is making this an open source project and says that it would cost $150 to assemble. In the meantime, the 36 year old inventor has entered the thermal imaging camera in the Jack Daniel's Independence Project Contest. The application was a video which you can view below. While we're sure that Andy would like to make some money on the whole thing, he says he has the loftier goal of making them and selling them so that others can save energy and money.

This is certainly one of the most unusual applications we've seen built for a smartphone, and there probably is a decent sized market for it.

source: Instructables via Gizmodo

8 Comments
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posted on 04 Sep 2012, 11:41 5

1. dcgore (Posts: 201; Member since: 24 Feb 2012)


Predator is pissed. Threatening to sue apple and the dude that created the lens for infringing on his technology.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 13:11

2. parvsingh05 (Posts: 97; Member since: 11 Jan 2012)


yay finaaly time track spirits around you ! ispirit :D

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 15:41 2

3. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5510; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Finding and plugging temperature leaks in houses is a big market. Being able to offer the technology for around $200 is a significant improvement on $2,000 units. Best wishes to Andy Rawson!

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 15:59

4. RomeoJDR (Posts: 237; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)


Interesting, but this is not a thermal imaging camera and comparing it to one is far more than just a stretch. This is more similar to an advanced IR heat detector gun available for around $30. The $150 tag seems fair in that it changes the color hue (in blocks apparently) on a display so you can scan a larger area to pinpoint that air leak quicker, but certainly not the steal it would be if it were in fact a thermal imaging camera.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 17:21

6. htc_prep (Posts: 303; Member since: 09 Oct 2009)


agreed but at least the foundation is there and either he can improve that feature or some one else can work with him to build on a solid base.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 18:49

7. RomeoJDR (Posts: 237; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)


Once your able to take this out in pitch black and be able to make out objects I'll be on board, until then I'll just stick with my $30 Black and Decor that emits a color changing led light pending temperature changes in addition to the temp display. But, Kudos to this guy for showing innovation

posted on 18 Dec 2012, 11:20

8. NIcko (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)


Well, it is and it isn't. It uses a proper, factory calibrated, far infrared 16x4 array thermopile (Melexis MLX90620) - the real deal, not a hacked silicon sensor. The data from the array is processed and sent via bluetooth to the phone - the app blends the coarse pixel array into a smoother image and merges it with the phone's camera view. Its not as good as a commercial FLIR camera (which costs several $1000) - it is VERY different from a $30 IR heat detector gun (which is a single sensor) - far more capable and sophisticated.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 17:20

5. htc_prep (Posts: 303; Member since: 09 Oct 2009)


this is why apple is killing it now in the consumer market. all their products are on the same os and they follow the same hardware lines

if android OEMs demanded uniformity (aka processor, port location, screen size) on their flagships from the carriers that provided service on their products then hardware and software developers would be able to build value within those products by making add ons such as this or the camera case that turns the iphone to a full DSLR camera.

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