Seek Thermal Camera Is Hot … and Way Cool!

In doing gear reviews, we get to test some pretty cool things – you know, those hot ticket items. This is one of those gadgets, and in case you didn’t guess suspect something from my adjectives I am talking about the Seek Thermal Camera for the latest iOS and Android devices, and it comes in normal and extended range versions.

Seek Thermal Camera/Images by David Goodspeed

Seek Thermal Camera/Images by David Goodspeed

The Seek Thermal Camera plugs directly into your device via Lightning or Micro USB plugs. We tested the iOS version on my iPhone 6. It looks like a small extension lens for your smartphone and comes with a waterproof case. The app is a free download and once that is onboard you can begin using the Seek device.

Cold beverage in front of warm computer.

Cold beverage in front of warm computer.

Fire up the Seek app and watch your device screen change from normal view to a glowing monitor where the user can select from a host of color or monochrome view options. The Seek software allows for still image and video recording of what the thermal camera is seeing and you can even choose to view the scene in split-screen as well.

SeekThermal3

At first there is the usual “wow, this is so cool” factor but as soon as that wanes you can begin to realize the possibilities with this new technology. Contractors and home repair technicians can utilize the benefits of the normal view unit in showing homeowners what is happening with their properties such as heat and cooling loss and energy inefficiencies. Pet owners can find their animals at night when other sources of lighting are not available (via the normal or XR model) and the XR unit allows hunters, farmers, and ranchers to see animals off in a distance in obscured visibility conditions or this unit can be used for surveillance at night.

Harley Dresser just back from a ride showing warmest and coolest readings in scene.

Harley Dresser just back from a ride, showing warmest and coolest readings in scene.

Whatever the use, the Seek Thermal Camera performs amazingly. When I first began looking at the thermal images I immediately thought back to the movie “Blue Thunder” and the cinematic thermal imaging effects created for the audience back then and now I am holding that in my hands. The Seek Thermal Camera system does not “see” through walls, glass, or any other dense object, it merely reads the head signature visible to its camera on the surface of whatever it is pointed at and the display shows the variations of those readings. The unit can also be used for reading and recording surface temperatures and there is a mode that will display the hottest and coolest temperatures in view of the camera and use a pointer in the display to show you exactly where those are and track them as you move the device around.

Monochrome image of handprint left on wall.

Monochrome image of handprint left on wall.

While resolution is not as high as the display screen of the device you are viewing it on, the Seek Thermal Camera image does allow you to be able to determine most objects in the scene that feature a distinct shape such as humans, animals, etc. I even recorded a motorcycle after the rider hopped off on a hot, sunny day.

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The specifications of the two Seek Thermal Cameras are:
Seek Thermal Specs
• 36º Field of View (range 1,000 ft.)
• Fixed Focus
• Resolution: 206 x 156 Array
• -40C to 330C Detection
• < 9Hz
• Long Wave Infrared 7.2 – 13 Microns
• 12 µ Pixel Pitch
• Vanadium Oxide Microbolometer
• Chalcogenide Lens
• Magnesium Housing
• Protective Waterproof Case
Seek Thermal XR Specs
• 20º Field of View (range 1,800 ft.)
• Adjustable Focus
• Resolution: 206 x 156 Array
• -40C to 330C Detection
• < 9Hz
• Long Wave Infrared 7.2 – 13 Microns
• 12 µ Pixel Pitch
• Vanadium Oxide Microbolometer
• Chalcogenide Lens
• Magnesium Housing

I took this device to a show to a couple of friends for their opinions, one works in law enforcement and the other is a battalion chief at an area fire department. Both were impressed with the little device and contemplated on its potential uses. The fire chief compared it to a thermal imaging device they carry on the engines that costs $10,000 and only displays in monochrome. He said about the only difference he could see was the expensive device was in a waterproof, heat resistant housing.

Screenshot of asphalt roadway with surface temperature reading.

Screenshot of asphalt roadway with surface temperature reading.

Novelty aside, the Seek Thermal Camera is a unique device and brings what was once futuristic “science fiction” technology into the palm of your hand. Best of all it is relatively affordable. The normal range device is $249.99 for both iOS and Android and the XR model runs $299.99. For more information visit the Seek website at www.thermal.com.

What is it: Seek Thermal Camera (review sample provided by manufacturer)

What I like: Unlimited possibilities; Incredible technology for the masses; Record capability

What can be improved: Offer a short connection cable for it as the device cannot be used with phone cases

Our two cats in monochrome mode.

Our two cats in monochrome mode.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.