Unless you've dropped tens of thousands of dollars on a Hollywood-calibre drone that can hoist full-sized cameras, the carrying capacity of your hobby quadcopter is probably limited. So instead of designing a thermal imaging accessory that works alongside a GoPro, FLIR just created its own action camera that can also capture Predator-like thermal imagery from the skies.
But don't smash your GoPro in disgust just yet. While the FLIR Duo action camera includes both a Lepton thermal imaging sensor (with a 160 x 120 resolution) and a traditional video camera right alongside it, it's limited to resolutions of just 1080P, or two megapixels. And it's mostly designed for use with a drone, instead of extreme activities where it might get even a little wet. So if you bought a GoPro for recording gorgeous 2K or 4K footage while snowboarding down a mountain, you'll still want to keep that action camera in your toolkit.
At the same time, the FLIR Duo can record both a standard video stream to a microSD card, and a thermal-enhanced stream using the company's MSX overlay technology which makes it easier to discern what exactly you're looking at, instead of just giving you multi-coloured blobs to stare at. Other modes include a picture-in-picture option to make it easier to pilot the drone without being distracted by the thermal images being captured.
Three years ago at CES FLIR unveiled its first consumer-friendly thermal camera with the FLIR ONE system that gave the iPhone Predator-like heat vision. Although thermal vision is mostly a novelty for most consumers, the FLIR ONE accessory was received surprisingly well, and has seen several major updates since its initial release. But the new FLIR Duo is definitely targeted more at professionals who can benefit from the device's remote temperature-measuring capabilities.
Two versions of the FLIR Duo will be available in the US starting today, including a $US1000 ($1384) base model, and the $US1300 ($1799) Duo R designed for professionals doing aerial inspection work who also require the ability to take accurate temperature measurements from afar, without putting people at risk. Australian pricing and availability have yet to be announced -- the FLIR Duo was unavailable on the Australian website at time of writing.
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