In 2015, long time thermal imaging company Flir introduced a smartphone accessory called the Flir One that gave users a superpower: it let them see in the dark. Today at CES, all the work that went into miniaturizing that image sensor for the Flir One has manifested in a new form. It's called the Flir Scout TK, and it's the company's smallest standalone thermal camera.
The Scout TK won't see everything, everywhere in the dark — you'll have to look at the more expensive Scout models for that — but it's powerful enough to pick up heat signals from humans, other animals, or inanimate objects from as far as 100 yards away. Using it is simple: just put the eyepiece up to your eye, frame up your shot on the 640 x 480 display, and click a button on the top. (Short press for photo, long press for video.)
The draw here is that the submarine-shaped Scout TK is small. It's four inches long, less than two inches wide, and weighs only six ounces. The camera also works in complete isolation from a smartphone, unlike the Flir One.
Flir keeps making thermal cameras more accessible
Next to most of Flir's products — which are used by the military, first responders, Formula One, at border crossings, and on drones — the Flir One was almost a novelty. But Flir's newest pocket-sized thermal camera is rugged: it's weather-sealed, can handle temperatures between -4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 40 degrees Celsius), and can survive drops on hard surfaces. It also has a five-hour battery life (and will last "months" on standby, according to Flir), and can record and store 4 hours of video along with 1,000 images.
I had a lot of fun using the Flir One, mostly because taking thermal images of my dog is just innately hilarious, but also because there's something cool about capturing light that doesn't live in the visible spectrum. But its $250 price tag meant you really had to know you were going to use it around the house — for identifying drafty windows, for checking leaky pipes, to see things in dim or dark rooms — before you bought it. The same probably applies to the Scout TK. It will cost $599 when it hits the market later this year, far out of the price range for something that simply piques your curiosity.