Seek Thermal - Hardware, Setup and Usage Impressions

The Seek Thermal camera comes in a nicely packaged box which includes a compact storage case. The gallery below shows the packaging and the camera housing. The housing is made of magnesium and the lens has a 36 degree field of view. The camera is quite lightweight at 0.5 ounces. In terms of dimensions, the unit has a length of 2.75", depth of 0.84" and height of 0.84".

The Android version of the camera works on any Android device with a micro-USB port supporting USB OTG (On-the-Go) where the USB port can be in the host mode. Unfortunately, Android phones don't have a standard orientation or placement for the microUSB port. On the HTC One M7 and M8, for instance, the thermal camera tags on to the phone facing the same side as the screen. With the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy phones as well as the Dell Venue 8 7000 series tablet, there were no issues in getting the orientation of the camera right.

The Seek Thermal Android app has gone through multiple feature updates and bug fixes over the last few months. In the initial days, the app would consistently crash, but it has recently been rock-solid on the multiple devices that I have tested it with (LG G2, HTC One M7, HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Dell Venue 8 7000).

The gallery below shows some screenshots of the app in action on a LG G2 back in November. Note that we have emissivity control - i.e, the software is aware of the efficiency with which infrared energy is radiated depending on the material. This helps in determining the correct temperature of the material. The reference 'black body' has an emissivity of 1. The Seek Thermal camera has a shutter that passes in front of the lens periodically for recalibration based on the surrounding temperature. This makes a clicking sound which is frequent during the initial usage. After warm-up, calibration frequency is reduced.

In any case, this emissivity control seems to be missing in the latest screenshots taken while the app was running on a Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet.

The various interesting aspects of the app are evident in the screenshots above. It is possible to take still images as well as videos. In the latter case, 16:9 settings provides us with 720p video at 13 fps, while 4:3 gives us a 832 x 624 video at 14 fps. However, the real frame rate is less than 9 fps due to export restrictions on VO-based microbolometers. The photo / video can be in different thermography modes - normal (regular thermal images), spot (average temperature around the center spot), high / low (highest and lowest temperatures in the focus area) and threshold (different color for temperatures above/equal to/below a particular temperature).

Seek Thermal's target market includes a host of applications:

  • safety and security (scanning areas at night before venturing out)
  • home improvement (heating / insulation evaluation, water damage tracing, clogs tracing)
  • pet maintenance
  • cooking
  • boating and other outdoor activities

PC builders and DIY enthusiasts are not in the list provided by Seek Thermal. However, regular readers of our passively cooled PC reviews must have seen seen photographs from the Seek Thermal camera in the thermal performance evaluation section. The camera provides an affordable way to monitor the temperature of the chassis in order to ensure that things are not overheating and creating a hazard.

Introduction to Thermal Imaging Sample Thermal Images


View All Comments

  • Folterknecht - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    So now Anandtech is finally able to include IR images of VRMs on GPUs and mobos? High Time - after seeing the IR images on TH with the initial GTX 960 review (100°C +) Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    Maybe. It depends on if it's just a review loaner or not. If it's something that was bought/donated *one* of the editors could use it for improved thermal measuring. The Anandtech writers work from home at various locations around the world; there's no central office where they can all borrow from a shared set of toys. Reply
  • dave1231 - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    Bang goes my rough sleeping in the park bushes. Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    How does this compare to the old DSLR & mirrorless cameras that people convert into IR? Output seems rougher here but I dunno if that actually makes it more useful for testing purposes. Reply
  • RandomUsername3245 - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    Those IR DSLRs see the infrared region that is *barely* above what our eyes can see, e.g. we see roughly wavelengths = 0.4-0.7 um. The IR SLRs see ~0.7-1.0um. These SLRs don't see thermal emission until roughly the same temperature as we see it with our naked eye: when things glow red hot. Thermal cameras like the Seek see longwave infrared, which is roughly ~8-14 um. This is a substantially different wavelength region than the SLRs. Reply
  • mike8675309 - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    The killer thing these type of cameras can do is take a picture with both visible and IR cameras. Then overlay the IR on the visible image to make it easier to pinpoint where the hot spots are in relation to things. Reply
  • fobosca - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    Unfortunately this is just a toy. Expensive one. I am professional thermographer and was using multiple FLIR cameras. Thermal resolution is too low for any practical use. Unless of cuz you wanna take pictures if your cat and you have some money to burn. Good luck trying to get any accurate temperature. Reply
  • sor - Saturday, May 2, 2015 - link

    Am I missing something, or are we being misled by a conflation of the visible and infrared resolutions? At 32k it seems this has a resolution between a FLIR E6 and E8, which range in the thousands of dollars. Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Saturday, May 2, 2015 - link

    I happen to own a FLIR i7 which has a lower resolution but from what I'm reading seems to be vastly more accurate than the Seek Thermal (when set to the correct material/reflectivity) and have a higher resolution for the temperature readout (you can actually locate wirings in brick walls even with only low currents passing through).

    I'd be really interested in a shootout between those add-ons and dedicated IR thermographing gear let's say up to a couple thousand bucks.
  • thebeastie - Saturday, May 2, 2015 - link

    Yeah LOL there are a few reviews of this on the web that have heaps better pictures of cars etc.
    Those pics on this review are super boring, I can only assume the reviewer was asked to review this and has absolutely no interest in it.

    What would be really handy for me with this is checking for bad battery cells or links on ebike batteries under load...

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