The wonderful world of consumer IR imaging!

The 2016 Mobile World Congress was undoubtedly the place to discover the consumer industry and its latest innovations…
Amongst the numerous product releases and announcements that took place last week in Barcelona, the innovative smartphone, released the week before by Bullitt Group, global mobile device licensee for Caterpillar, was perhaps one of the most interesting…

Indeed, Bullit Group introduced the first smartphone, ‘Cat® S60’, with an embedded FLIR One thermal camera. This announcement is revealing to be a unique business opportunity for the IR  imaging players, to develop new products for consumer applications and increase their sales… According to the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company Yole Développement (Yole), consumer and DIY  applications of IR imagers reached US$ 20 million in 2015. Yole is expecting +26% CAGR over the 2015-2020 period (Source: Uncooled Infrared Imaging Technology & Market Trends report, Yole Développement, June 2015).

Based on this announcement, Yole’s partner, System Plus Consulting, is proposing a new reverse costing & technology analysis dedicated to FLIR’s latest  infrared products: the FLIR One 2nd generation camera and the FLIR LEPTON 3 LWIR core. This strategic analysis is entitled FLIR One 2nd Generation & FLIR LEPTON 3 LWIR Core and is based on a complete teardown of the thermal camera for Android and iOS: System Plus Consulting’s report provides a detailed physical analysis and manufacturing cost estimation of FLIR’s camera and module.

Moreover, under this latest reverse costing & analysis, System Plus Consulting’s experts propose a unique comparison between existing solutions: FLIR One 1st and 2nd Generation, Seek Thermal/Raytheon and Opgal Therm-App/Ulis cameras. This competitive analysis lists the differences in technical choices made by each company as well as related costs.

The new Lepton 3 LWIR camera core by FLIR has dimensions that are almost identical to the previous Lepton core but offers a resolution of 160×120 pixels, which is four times higher (versus 80×60 pixel for previous generation). Despite this improvement, the FLIR product consumes roughly the same amount of power with 160mW versus 150mW. “This achievement has been made possible by the reduction of the pixel size, from 17µm to 12µm in the Lepton 3,” explains Romain Fraux, Project Manager, MEMS Devices, ICs and Advanced Packaging at System Plus Consulting. And he adds: “This new pixel size has been accompanied by new processes for the ROIC , the microbolometer and the wafer-level window with improved technology, new pixel integration with the ROIC and a simplified window which no longer needs an SOI wafer…”

On the optical module side, strong efforts have been made to improve lenses resulting in a wider field of view (FOV). The lenses are still wafer-level silicon optics but the useful area has been enhanced thanks to hexagonal shapes compared to the square shapes which were used previously.
FLIR One 2nd Generation & FLIR LEPTON 3 LWIR Core are the second generation of FLIR consumer solutions: after the world’s first consumer thermal camera FLIR One, released in 2014 and allowing anyone to capture thermal photographs and videos, the US-based company FLIR proposed a new solution with a completely new design and an upgraded Lepton core. The major achievement for FLIR has been to propose, in the same module size, four times higher resolution and a better FOV  without consuming more power and at a lower cost…

“FLIR’s technical choices are really impressive,” commented Jean-Christophe Eloy, President & CEO, Yole Développement. And he adds: “… They have initiated the development and industrialization of new technologies that will pave the way for real expansion of consumer applications. These technologies include silicon optics that make production compatible with ‘More Than Moore’ industrial infrastructure, which brings the benefits of price decreases and scalability with volume production.”

FLIR’s strategy is clearly targeted at the mass markets by proposing the best compromise concerning image quality and by making the final image easier to understand through image fusion. To develop this approach, Yole’s analysts have highlighted the strategic acquisitions made by FLIR:

  • DOC in 2013 to gain access to wafer level optics technology
  • DVTEL in 2015 to add a software function within its future products.

FLIR recently signed a significant partnership agreement with DJII to provide infrared imaging solutions to drone applications…

The group of companies, Yole and its partner, System Plus Consulting will pursue their investigations in the infrared imaging world. The analysts follow the progress of this industry every day to identify disruptive technologies, their impacts on the markets, especially from the applications side, and subsequently analyze the evolution of the supply chain and highlight potential business opportunities.

Together, Yole and System Plus Consulting are combining their expertise and vision of the industry to perform comprehensive technology and market analyses, reverse costing & technology analyses and hold dedicated conferences.

Next September, Yole’s analysts invite you to meet leaders of the infrared imaging industry: the one-day conference entitled, 1st Executive Infrared Imaging Forum: From Niche to Large Volume Applications, which will bring together a world-class panel of users and application experts.

The forum powered by Yole and hosted by CIOE, will allow participants to get valuable insights into the status and future of industry. It will take place on September 8, 2016 in Shenzhen, alongside the 18th China International Optoelectronic Expo 2016.

To get more details go to Infrared Imaging Forum. The Call for paper is still open (Deadline: April 8). Your contact: Clotilde Fabre (