This camera shoots thermal images!

  • Cat S60 is the world's first phone with an integrated thermal camera

Visible light is is what we see around us every day. But it occupies only a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, what we are taught in school are the 7 colours that make up VIBGYOR. At one end is Ultra violet , at the other end, infra red.  

To ' see' into the infra red part of the spectrum we need to measure not light but heat. Infrared cameras do that. Firefighters use them to see through smoke, and check where the fire is hottest.  Electricians use it to look behind walls check if some part of the wiring is overheating.  Doctors can sense if a patient has fever—from afar.  Police use it for surveillance and yes,  in a James Bond film, Q using  a thermal camera, penetrates pitch darkness and stumbles on 007 in close encounters of the romantic kind with a "Bond girl". 

All this needed a costly, specialist camera. Now, CAT, makers of rugged test equipment (they belong to the Caterpillar group) has launched the world's first smart phone with a built-in thermal or FLIR ( Forward Looking Infra Red) camera.  

Meant to be used by outdoor professionals, the CAT S60 is also dust proof, drop proof ( from 1.8 metres) , and can be operated in up to 5 metres of water for one hour—which means you can do underwater photography.

As cameras go this is a nano sim 4G LTE handset, with 3GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage expandable by a microSD card of up to 128 GB.  The screen is 4.7 inch 720p HD Gorilla Glass and the battery is 3800mAh. The front camera is 5 MP while the rear camera is 13 MP with Flash and autofocus. Fitted just above the rear camera is the FLIR infrared camera. To operate it you have to go to the Infrared app—which offers a lot of options—for example shooting the same scene in Infra red and normal, then super imposing them. The IR colour is displayed when shooting with the FLIR camera.

In keeping with the typical use case, every port in the camera has a covering, making it waterproof. The whole thing is a chunky 223 grams and the surface is contoured to be non slip and can be operated safely with wet hands, hands covered with leather gloves etc. 

The average phone buyer may not have much for the extra camera—but for industrial and specialist users this is one huge advance in technology—combining an important work tool with something every carries anyway. For that, the asking price of Rs 64,999, might not seem to much. A high end iPhone 7 will cost you more!

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