Because the camera picks up minute heat differences, human skin looks as blotchy as the hide of a giraffe.
Thermal imaging is useful for spotting heat leaking through home insulation.
This technology has been available to the military for decades, and it has been creeping into the hands of sailors, electricians, plumbers and other contractors.
But the cheapest stand-alone infrared camera costs 5 and doesn’t come with all the fun doodads that the smartphone allows, such as quick image uploads to Facebook.
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Warm things show up bright on the i Phone screen, while cold things are dark. What’s striking is that the camera is so sensitive.
If two objects differ by one-fifth of a degree Fahrenheit (0.1 degree Celsius), the camera can tell the difference.
If you swipe your hand across a wall, the heat trail will be briefly visible as a smear.
You can find a cellphone in a dark room by picking up the 1 degree F heat difference caused by the standby power consumption.
It creates a faint overlay of object contours, compensating to some extent for the low thermal resolution.
The thermal image can be set to show up in a variety of color ranges.
It can also spot otherwise invisible water leaks, because evaporation usually makes humid areas colder than the surroundings. There could be a lot of other uses no one’s thought of yet, from gaming to medicine.