Saturday, October 04, 2014

206 x 156 pix Thermal Camera for $199

PRNewswire: Following FLIR One steps, Seek Thermal announces the Seek thermal camera that plugs into iPhone and Android devices. The Santa Barbara, CA-based startup seems to be well funded to buy a domain name to promote its sales. The spec is quite impressive for a $199 camera:
  • True Thermal Sensor
  • 206 x 156 Array
  • 32,136 Thermal Pixels
  • 12μm Pixel Pitch
  • Vanadium Oxide Microbolometer
  • Chalcogenide Lens
  • 36° Field of View
  • Magnesium Housing
  • Long Wave Infrared 7.2 - 13 Microns
  • -40C to 330C Detection
  • Framerate < 9Hz

"Seek's breakthrough technology lets people see heat for the first time, something that only government agencies and companies could afford in the past," said Seek Thermal CEO, Robert Acker. "The Seek camera not only gives average consumers the capabilities in home improvement and safety and security that only professionals used to have, but we are also especially excited about the hundreds of new use cases for thermal that our camera will enable."

Thanks to JZ for letting me know!

Another FLIR One alternative, Hema-Imager Kickstarter project, fell short from its $205,000 fundraising goal recently. HemaImaging product was supposed to use German Heimann Sensors Gmbh thermopile array.


  1. Nice! but this product shall involve loads of patent licensing (shutterless NUC patents, flirone application patents etc). just curious how they still can manage to market it with a price tag less than $200 while achieving 6 times more resolution than flirone which is selling for over $300. any thoughts may help.

    1. If you know a bit about the founders, you would not ask this ;)

  2. 1. FlirOne has a manual shutter. This one seems to be a shutterless device (Can anybody vouch for it?). So, guessing minimal IP issues.
    2. FlirOne has cost burden of battery and associated electronics + shutter and electronics.

  3. The sensor of this $199 device is using thermopile technology so no NUC / shutter required?

  4. In their faq they have a mention of a mechanical clicking so probably does have something atleast

    1. Where is the FAQ page?

    2. Inside of their android app, not on their website

  5. Some history here, I have first hand knowledge of this situation in background as an analyst; In 2004, FLIR purchased Indigo for approximately $185 million, acquiring Indigo's (prior company to Seek) patents, technology, and intellectual property. Bill Parish and Fitzgibbons (Seek founders) were shareholders and officers of Indigo before the company was sold. After the sale, Parish and Fitzgibbons continued working at Indigo. Both informed FLIR that they intended to create a new class of product for consumer markets and company called Thermicon and asked FLIR's board if they wanted in. Ratheon lined up as a licensing customer. FLIR backed out and so did Ratheon when they found out FLIR had backed out. Then FLIR sued for a perminent injunction against Parish and Fitzgibbons for (1) making use of appellants' trade secrets in the design, manufacture, and high-volume production of uncooled Vanadium Oxide microbolometers;  (2) selling uncooled Vanadium Oxide microbolometers in commercial markets less than 12 months after respondents entered into a license with Raytheon Company or any other third party to purchase intellectual property;  or (3) using, disclosing or misappropriating the contents of an Indigo commodity code database that Parrish attempted to download while an employee at Indigo. The trial court found no misappropriation or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets and FLIR was forced to pay >$1.6M in court costs and attorney's fees. It is my belief that Parrish has successfully proven that he has access to the IP and patents through an agreement, only after a given amount of time, or Parrish owns the IP and is licensing it back to FLIR, which would account for the dispairity in cost of the two products. -R. T.

    1. Very informative!

      May be it is similar to the lawsuit that the company who hired Shuji Nakamura to invent the blue LED and turns out this blue LED patent is not fully owned by that company who paid for the equipment and salary. This year Nakamura won the Nobel price in Physics and who know about the company which called Nichia Corp. that started it all.

      And it explains why FLIR Lepton is selling for US$250 @ with MOQ1k while SEEK device is $199 without MOQ and has way higher resolution than Lepton. And it sounds like

      Any idea why SEEK didn't implement any fusion of visual light image and thermal image to further enhance the image quality like what flir 1 did? Patent issue?

    2. Its hard to digest that Flir would license anything from anybody. I still don't get the huge disparity in prices.

    3. The difference in price is not likely to be related to licenses.

      FLIR runs a very profitable business with many product lines that stand a risk of cannibalization from these products.

      Seek is a venture backed company (likely well funded) that has no existing products to risk and for whom it probably also matters less if they ever get the money back from this very product itself (in fact, they most likely never will). What they absolutely have to do is to start creating a new market from zero, make a splash in the media and start building market share and company brand. If they succeed, and become a key player in a market that eventually turns out large scale commercial, the company venture capital owners get their money back selling the company (again). But the profits of this very products matters less, only growth does.

      This is my guess as to what explains the price difference - FLIR wants to somehow earn money, SEEK wants to build market share.


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