Friday, August 29, 2014

Thermal Cameras Everywhere... Beware...

Up until recently thermal cameras have been quite expensive and were generally only used in high end test equipment or military applications.

That is now changing with an announcement from Seek Thermal (1) where they will soon be offering a smartphone attachment for around $250 that will allow you to see temperature in real time on your smartphone screen.

The applications are endless! Just a few examples are:
Finding people or animals in the dark.
Checking the temp on the playground slide for you kids.
Looking for electrical shorts in a wall.
Looking for leaks in an air duct.
Testing the effectiveness of insulation.
Watching for forest fires.
And so much more...

Now as with all technologies people will always find a dark side. There are endless possibilities of abuse as well. Since this technology used to be difficult to obtain for most people it was not much of a concern. But with the significant lower price point more people will have access and thus more people will do bad things. This is just inevitable.

Here are a few ideas of malicious things you could do with a thermal camera:
Spy on people in the dark.
Look for a guard dog in a backyard to avoid.
Find a car in a parking lot that just parked so you know they are not likely to be back for a while.
Just use your imagination and think of the privacy implications.

Finally my last thought on this topic is that you may soon be able to tell what mood someone is in just by taking a thermal image of them. I belive it will not be long before there is an app that with a thermal sensor and possibly an IR sensor a user will be able to tell what mood a person is in. This could potentially change everything.

Let's say you want to ask the boss for money to find a project you're working on. Better check their mood first. Good, let's ask for money. Bad, let's wait. Very happy, let's ask for a lot of money.

I think this tech could also find its way into the dating scene. Imagine being able to read the body of the opposite sex. What they are feeling just by their thermal signature. We may have to wear thermal clothes just to protect ourselves from the curious or worse malicious.


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