Caterpillar’s new rugged S60, thermal imaging sensors are starting to be built right into smartphones.The centerpiece of this particular smartphone is the FLIR thermal imagining sensor built into the back, right next to the standard camera.
With the new CAT S60 smartphone, however, the Lepton sensor that allows FLIR cameras to see in total darkness has finally been integrated into the device itself, alongside its standard rear camera.
The first smartphone to feature an integrated thermal imaging sensor isn’t exactly skinny, though. The new CAT S60 measures in at just slightly thicker than half an inch, but that’s not a deal breaker because the phone isn’t being targeted at the average consumer who wants as sleek a device as possible to slip into their pockets.
The thermal camera visualizes heat and highlights temperature contrasts. It can measure surface temperature from a distance of 50 to 100 feet away, even through smoke or other things that may block a regular sensor. Cat and Flir envision it being used by utility workers, building professionals, first responders, and other industries that require workers to see in the dark or identify places of heat loss or overheating appliances.
This lets you see in complete darkness, and when there’s light, it can use both cameras to overlay a thermal image on a standard one and give you a better idea of what’s happening.
The Cat S60 will be $599 for 32GB of storage. That’s comparable to what you might pay for top-tier flagship phones, but as Andy Teich, President and CEO of Flir points out, “the CAT S60 presents mobile users around the world with new capabilities – a ‘sixth sense’ experience that only thermal imaging can offer.”
You’ll find a 4.7-inch 720p display, Android Marshmallow, a Snapdragon 617 processor, a 13MP camera, a 5MP rear-facing camera, 3GB of RAM and a fat 3,800mAh battery. Other rugged niceties include water-resistance up to 5 meters submersion, drop protection and Gorilla Glass 4. Look for the Cat S60 in May for $600.
It supports location tracking using GPS, assisted-GPS, Glonass, and even the Chinese Beidou satellite network. And the CAT S60 includes Bluetooth, NFC, an FM radio tuner, and barometer and altimeter sensors..
Like laser pointers, we’ve been fascinated with thermal imaging devices every time we’ve had the opportunity to review them. Finding a practical, everyday use for either device has always been tricky, and spending $250 on a technological novelty is a tough sell. We’ll try to seek one out at Mobile World Congress if we can.