The 7 Best Thermal Imagers For Android

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This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in January of 2017. Sometimes, a regular camera just won't cut it. If you need to see more than what meets the eye, a thermal imager can open up a whole new realm of possibilities. These devices attach directly to any Android phone or tablet, and are invaluable if you're in home repair or pest management, or if you just want your nature photos to reveal a hidden world of activity. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best thermal imager for android on Amazon.

7. PerfectPrime IR0102

6. Seek Compact XR Outdoor

5. Flir One Gen 3

4. Fotric 228 Pro

3. Therm-App TH 1100

2. Seek Thermal Compact Pro

1. Therm-App 1000

Editor's Notes

July 30, 2019:

Therm-App continues to make the best models on the market for this category, with reliable attachment mechanisms, great imaging, and a relatively wide selection of lenses. It's no surprise then that they kept hold of the number one spot on our list, and even snuck a camera into number three. That spot opened up due to the high price point of the Fotric 228 Pro slotting it back toward number four. There just isn't enough of a difference in the optical quality and ease of use (especially considering its size) to justify spending so much unless you're using it for military applications. That said, it's essentially a little mirrorless camera with a thermal imaging sensor built in, so if you're looking for the highest quality picture and you're willing to sacrifice both cost and convenience, it's your best bet. Rounding out our top three is the Pro model by Seek, which has been upgraded from the standard compact model previously ranked.

A Brief History Of Thermal Imaging

This wasn't a true thermal-imaging camera like we know them today, but more of a crude form of night vision.

Thermal imaging was introduced to the human race in 1987, when an advanced alien lifeform used it to hunt down an elite squad of Commandos in the jungle.

Wait — no. That's the plot to Predator.

The actual history of the technology begins in 1800 C.E., when Sir William Herschel discovered infrared radiation. This new discovery was mainly used to improve thermometers until 1829, when Leopoldo Nobili used it to fashion a crude thermopile, which is a device capable of converting IR radiation into electricity.

The next big breakthrough occurred in 1880, when Samuel Pierpoint Langley invented the bolometer. This device is basically a thermometer for IR radiation, allowing the user to tell how much heat is being produced by an object, and the first one was capable of detecting a cow from 400 meters away. At long last, the days of cows sneaking up on people were over.

Military applications would spearhead further development in the early 20th century. A Hungarian physicist named Kálmán Tihanyi made the first IR-sensitive camera in 1929, and the British used it for anti-aircraft defense in WWII. This wasn't a true thermal-imaging camera like we know them today, but more of a crude form of night vision.

A variety of American companies began to experiment with thermal imaging in the 1960s, including Texas Instruments, Honeywell, and Hughes Aircraft. These tests were highly classified and strictly for military use, and the technology was prohibitively expensive.

Thermal imaging would make its way over the private sector in the late 1970s, when an optics device developed by EEV and Philips allowed firefighters to locate flames in difficult-to-reach areas. Another company, FLIR, used thermal-imaging cameras to perform energy audits of vehicles.

The military took the reins back in the 1980s, using thermal imaging to create "smart sensors," which were intended to help alert decision-makers in the case of a nuclear attack.

After the Gulf War, the government declassified most of its research on thermal imaging, and the technology quickly became inexpensive enough to be viable for a wide range of civilian uses. Everything from medical diagnostics to building analysis began to integrate some form of thermal imaging.

Today, you can get your very own camera for relatively cheap, allowing you to use it for business applications or just to see the world in a whole new (infrared) light.

Most importantly, though, this finally levels the playing field with those pesky Predators.

Various Uses For Thermal Imaging Cameras

If you've never had the need to use a thermal imaging camera, you may think that they're only good for military use, or for finding ghosts in haunted houses. However, they have a wide range of uses in a great many jobs and other civilian applications.

Since the military has found such varied uses for this technology, it should come as no surprise that law enforcement has, as well. It turns out that it's much easier to find a suspect when he can't hide in the dark, and hostage situations aren't quite as perilous when you can know exactly where everyone in the building is at all times.

They're also extremely effective for finding people in a building that's too flooded with smoke to allow for any visibility.

Speaking of buildings, contractors can use thermal imaging to find any areas where heat is escaping, allowing them to better target the installation and maintenance of any insulation. As a result, both homes and businesses can lower their energy costs, saving money and the environment.

Escaping air isn't the only thing that inspectors can use thermal imaging to look for. It can also help find any areas of ingress for pests, as well as any high-moisture areas that might be attracting them. Pest control professionals can use an IR camera to find the pests themselves, with everything from bats to mounds of termites showing up on the screen. Also, it should be mentioned that if you ever see a spider big enough to register on these cameras, it's time to burn your house down.

While your house is burning, you can take notice of how fire departments make great use of these cameras, as they allow firefighters to pinpoint the location of any smoldering conflagrations. They're also extremely effective for finding people in a building that's too flooded with smoke to allow for any visibility.

Thermal imaging is just another one of the seemingly-endless technologies that have found widespread use in the civilian world after initially being developed for the military. There are many professions that can find a way to benefit from these cameras — and if all else fails, they can make you absolutely unbeatable at hide-and-seek.

Benefits Of Having An Android-Based Thermal Imager

OK, so you might be convinced at this point that thermal imaging cameras are fairly useful gizmos — but do you really need one for your phone?

Before we answer that, let's address one thing first: most phone-based cameras aren't going to be as high-quality as standalone models. That being said, phone-based imagers offer two major advantages: value and convenience.

Also, having the data on your phone lets you easily send it to anyone else who might be interested via email, text, or some other means.

The absolute cream of the crop in thermal cameras can cost you thousands of dollars, and for many blue-collar professionals, there's just no way to justify that kind of expense. Android-based imagers, on the other hand, can be had for a fraction of that, and they're usually close enough in quality that you won't miss the difference.

It's also extremely convenient to have something small that you can keep in your glove compartment or console, and yet have it be ready to hook up to your phone whenever necessary. You can transform your phone — which you always have on you anyway — into a much more versatile tool in seconds. Also, having the data on your phone lets you easily send it to anyone else who might be interested via email, text, or some other means.

If you're someone who would have lots of use for a thermal imaging camera, don't overlook these phone-based models. They're compact, powerful, and a great value — and best of all, they let you know when your boss is coming before he's even in the room.

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Daniel Imperiale
Last updated on July 31, 2019 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).


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