TRACTOR MAKER Cat has announced the world's first smartphone capable of thermal imaging, which it hopes will take the technology mainstream.
The Cat S60 was unveiled just days ahead of next week's Mobile World Congress, and The INQUIRER has had a look at the smartphone before it makes its Barcelona debut.
The handset is manufactured by Bullitt and features a military-grade thermal imaging C2 camera module from FLIR, the same used in the Intel-powered Daqri smart helmet, enabling the Cat S60 to show temperature contrasts.
The sensor is the smallest of its kind, and can measure surface temperatures from a distance of up to 100ft. It can see through obscurants such as smoke, and is aimed at building professionals, utility workers and outdoor sport enthusiasts.
The Cat S60 has some obvious uses, but the firm believes that thermal imaging technology could find its way into 50 to 60 percent of smartphone devices within five years.
Bruce Cummings, vice president of brand and creative strategy at FLIR, told The INQUIRER: "We want to make thermal imaging accessible to the general population. GPS is a great example of this: a technology that was used solely in the military space and is now everywhere.
"The technology enables you to see in pure darkness, so there’s a host of use cases right through to the consumer space, whether it’s to see if a sausage is cooked when barbecuing, how much gas is left in your tank or to find your pet on a dark night."
And let's not forget that a thermal imaging smartphone could also let you take what Cat calls "thermies" (below). We're sorry.
Pete Cunningham, head of product at Bullitt, the company that manufactures Cat devices, took a swipe at big-name smartphone makers, which he believes have stalled when it comes to new and innovative features.
"What we wanted to do with the Cat S60 was really demonstrate innovation. In the smartphone market you get peaks and troughs when it comes to innovation, and at the minute we’re in a bit of a trough," he said.
"We found the perfect partner in FLIR, which is the market leader in thermal imaging cameras. What we’ve done is integrate the technology into a mobile phone. Collectively, we believe that this is going to mainstream the technology in a few years' time, and Cat and FLIR are the first to do it."
The Cat S60 is also the world's most waterproof smartphone, according to the company. The handset can withstand depths of five meters for one hour, it is claimed, allowing it to be used as an underwater camera.
That's not all the Cat S60 has going for it. The chunky device runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and has a 4.7in screen complete with support for wet and gloved fingers. You'll also find 13MP and 5MP cameras, an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a beefy 3,800mAh battery.
The Cat S60 will be available later this year for €649 (around £500). µ
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