Apparently, my normal every-day resting face is SEVERELY GRUMPY when viewed in infrared.
Like most geeks in my generation, my first real glimpse of thermal imaging was provided by John McTiernan’s 1987 film Predator, where Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team of badasses are stalked and killed by an even badassier three-meter-tall alien out on safari. The eponymous "predator" perceives the world through machine-augmented infrared vision, and Ahnold’s body heat is brightly visible to the creature as he and his crew scurry around amidst the comparatively cool jungle foliage.
It makes for a neat visual effect, and Ahnold must figure out how to evade the hunter’s thermal vision as the movie violently explodes toward the inevitable final showdown. But real-time infrared thermal imaging is expensive—McTiernan had a Hollywood budget and could afford to rent the bulky equipment required to capture the film’s iconic imagery. Thermal imaging is still most often seen as a tool of military and law enforcement, with even small hand-held thermal cameras costing thousands of dollars.
FLIR Systems wants to change that. The Oregon-based company is the largest manufacturer of thermal imaging systems in the world, and it has a substantial customer base in the United States Department of Defense (the company’s name comes from the acronym FLIR, which stands for forward looking infrared). The company also makes medical grade thermal imaging devices and even professional-level thermal cameras intended for use by civilian agencies (like local fire departments). But FLIR Systems’ newest product is aimed at normal folks who don’t necessarily have thousands of dollars to spend on a pro-grade thermal imaging system.