published Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Gadget Watch: iPhone case lets you see heat

Trade show attendees take a break outside the Polaroid exhibit booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
Trade show attendees take a break outside the Polaroid exhibit booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

LAS VEGAS — Remember the alien with heat vision in the movie "Predator"? You, too, can now stalk people in the jungle by their heat signatures -- or check your home insulation for leaks, whichever is most useful to you.

FLIR Systems Inc. is launching its first consumer product, an iPhone jacket that contains a heat camera. Temperature differences show up in different colors on the screen. For instance, you can set it to show hotter things in yellow, medium-hot in red and cold in purple.

The FLIR One will cost $349, which compares with $995 and up for FLIR's professional thermal imagers. The resolution of the thermal image is low, but the jacket also contains a regular, visible-spectrum camera and overlays the images for a more detailed picture. The phone can record video or stills of the heat images.

WHAT YOU COULD USE IT FOR:

• Spot leaky insulation in the house.

• Detect moisture leaks in the house. Because it loses heat through evaporation, water looks cold.

• Beat your kids at hide-and-seek, "Predator"-style.

• Spot lurkers in the parking lot or wildlife at night.

• Crazy party shots in darkness.

• Unique selfies. "Look at me, I have a fever!"

AVAILABILITY: The FLIR One will launch this spring for the iPhone 5 and 5S. It won't work with the 5C. An Android model will be available later this year.

THE ACCURACY: The thermal camera can detect temperature differences of about one-tenth of a Fahrenheit degree, and the temperature readout is accurate to within 2 degrees.

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