FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera


The imaginations of middle school and high school students will be fully engaged in the science classroom with the FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera. This camera’s thermal capabilities allow students to explore things invisible to the human eye. For example, students can use the camera to investigate the world of thermodynamics in a manner that parallels the excitement and mystery evoked by sitting on the edge of your seat during a cutting-edge science fiction movie.


How does it work?

What we can see with naked eye is restricted to visible light. Therefore, when you consider the electromagnetic spectrum (EM), which encompasses radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, x-rays, and gamma rays, it becomes evident that what we can see with our eyes is limited. As an example, devices such as military night vision goggles make it possible to see images in the dark. In a similar way, the FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera is a device for us to “see” beyond visible light.

Thermal-imaging cameras, like the FLIR ONE, can “see” heat signatures, which are converted to display variations of temperatures, e.g., How an icy soft drink contrasts with the flame on a candle. This is because all objects emit thermal energy and the hotter the object; the more energy given off by the object. The energy emitted is known as the “heat signature.” Hence, every object has a different heat signature; and it’s those signatures that are detected by thermal imagers like the FLIR ONE. Moreover, since thermal cameras are not concerned with visible light, regardless of lighting conditions, thermal cameras can detect the different heat signatures in a variety of situations. Therefore, images of temperature variations can be observed with this type of device.

FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera Compatibility

The Thermal Camera is made for the iPhone and the iPad. It is very easy to use and, because no interface is needed, it is a snap to use in the classroom. Subsequently, teachers will have no problem having students connect the device for experiments. The first step, however, is load the free Vernier Thermal Analysis for FLIR ONE application, which is available for download on the iTunes App Store  []. It requires iOS 9.0 or better and should be installed before connecting the camera to your device.  The Vernier Thermal Analysis for FLIR ONE application is simple to access and takes only a few minutes to upload.


As explained in the iTunes store:

“Vernier Thermal Analysis for FLIR ONE allows you to mark up to four locations or regions on a thermal image. In a selected region, you can determine minimum, maximum, or average temperature. Graph temperature data live during an experiment, then export to our Graphical Analysis app for further analysis. Thermal image videos can also be exported to the Photos app.”

The Thermal Camera, in conjunction with the Thermal Analysis app, can do much more than simply detect heat. Students will also be able to record and graph live temperature data from up to four locations on an image. This will allow them to compare the temperature data between different locations during an experiment. Furthermore, each picture taken with this device will also simultaneously take a standard picture, providing greater detail of the image.

The FLIR ONE can be used across the science content areas  (i.e., physics, chemistry, earth science, biology, etc.) and will definitely enhance the study of thermodynamics for students– especially for visual learners! Below are samples of links to ideas for classroom experiments:

Rubbing erasers, hands and ice:

Knife and wooden spoon:

Cups and clothes:



The FLIR ONE Thermal Camera is a new technology application that engages students into meaningful and exciting inquiry-based learning! Undoubtedly, this user-friendly device has a kaleidoscope of meaningful uses for 21st Century science classrooms! There is little doubt that its use will spawn creativity and heighten the interest of thermodynamics content for students!

Equipment and Cost:


Cost: $249

Edwin P. Christmann is a professor and chairman of the secondary education department and graduate coordinator of the mathematics and science teaching program at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Anthony Balos is a graduate student and a research assistant in the secondary education program at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.

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3 Responses to FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera

  1. Fran Poodry says:

    Hello Edwin,
    It looks like you had some fun with the FLIR ONE thermal camera and Vernier’s Thermal Analysis app! I’m pleased to read your enthusiastic review.
    I have a couple of comments on the features. I agree that the MSX enhancement sometimes gets in the way of seeing what is going on thermally. My recommendation for getting around that problem is simply to put a small piece of tape over the visible-light camera. If you don’t press it down on the actual lens, masking tape is easily removed without leaving a residue. I use blue painter’s tape.
    There are a couple of possible reasons you did not find all the features of Thermal Analysis on your iPhone. First, since the screen on the iPhone is smaller than the iPad screen and has a different aspect ratio, you have to tap the gear button at the top right of the frame to bring out the panel of features. Second, some features are unavailable on older devices. Not only does the device have to be running iOS 9 or newer, but the hardware must also be modern enough for all the features to be available. If the phone you were using is an older model, this could be the problem.
    Thank you for reviewing the FLIR ONE thermal camera and Thermal Analysis app!
    Best regards,
    Fran Poodry
    Vernier Software & Technology

    • Edwin P. Christmann says:

      Hi Fran,
      Yes, the camera was excellent to work with and offers great potential for use in science classrooms! Your suggestion with the tape comes in handy as does your note on the differences between iPads and IPhones with the iOS 9 suggestion!

  2. Eric Stephens says:

    This is cool. A Thermal Imaging Learning Center that contains articles that explain all facets of thermal / IR imaging, from how thermal cameras work to how they’re used in firefighting, industrial and medical applications.

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