Through apps and accessories, our smartphones can be almost any digital tool we could ever need, including a thermal camera as FLIR showed us earlier this year. Not surprisingly, competing products to the FLIR ONE have started to appear, including the Seek thermal camera which promises a considerably smaller form factor and a cheaper price tag, without sacrificing too much in terms of its capabilities.
The FLIR ONE, if you recall, wrapped itself around the iPhone using a case-like form factor so that it could be easily popped on and off. And that was actually an important feature since the FLIR ONE added quite a bit of bulk and weight to your smartphone that you wouldn't want to have to always carry around. The incredibly compact Seek thermal camera instead attaches to the Lightning or microUSB port on the bottom of your smartphone — yep, that's right, it supports both iOS and many Android devices too.
At $US199 the Seek thermal camera will cost you about $US150 less than the FLIR ONE, making it a little easier to stomach if you just intend to use it for novelty purposes. But you do lose some of the more expensive option's capabilities. For example, the FLIR ONE included a second regular camera that's used to superimpose outlines over the thermal images, making them easier to understand. The Seek's app instead has you swiping back and forth between the thermal image and the one coming from your smartphone's own camera. It's not as elegant, but that's why it's not as expensive.
You also won't be shooting any 4K footage with the Seek, or even HD for that matter. The camera's magnesium housing hides a thermal sensor with a resolution of just 206 x 156 pixels. That certainly seems paltry compared to your smartphone camera's sensor, but that resolution is actually comparable to what you'd get from dedicated thermal cameras costing thousands of dollars. So dropping $US199 to guarantee you never burn your mouth on hot coffee ever again is a downright steal. [Seek Thermal]