FLIR are targeting a different customer base with the LEPTON based products and have a dedicated Consumer products division to deal with the differing needs of such a market. It is very different to the Producer and Pro markets in terms of product, marketing and support. I was very pleased when they released the LEPTON 2 as a discrete component. Hopefully the LEPTON 3 will follow.
Why am I talking about the LEPTON in a SEEK thread ? Well SEEK Thermal appear to be focussed on the consumer market with their present product range. Sadly there appears no interest in further development of the package into something that could be sold like the LEPTON, as a core for incorporation into 3rd party products. This is understandable as the SEEK design was not intended to be a 'core' for third party use. For developers wanting to produce a novel or specialist thermal imaging platform, at an affordable price to consumers, the LEPTON core appears to be the only runner in the race. I want to see thermal imaging used in many different scenarios that aid the consumer. Car night vision target avoidance being a favourite of mine. Such product development can only occur if the affordable parts needed for such exist. Competition is good for all and I would love SEEK Thermal to develop their own version of the LEPTON core that may be easily interfaced to different hosts, such as an RPi or other development platform. With such building blocks, great advances could be made in the application of thermal imaging to all manner of scenarios and challenges. Thermal drone Quadcopters with thermal vision have already shown their worth in non military applications, namely farm crop surveying for detecting blights that may be selectively treated instead of a blanket treatment of a whole field.
I am a card carrying member of the thermal imaging fan club and I hope that the consumer grade technology continues to improve, and its size remains at least as small as the LEPTOn 3 for ease of integration and low weight. Cheap lenses need to improve and that remains a challenge for the
It is also a fact that FLIR did not provide a MSX overlay disable option for one reason...... The MSX provided additional image detail and context that makes it compete well against the SEEK cameras higher resolution. FLIR do not want users or potential purchasers to see the raw 160x120 thermal image only. They believe buyers may buy the camera with the higher resolution instead. I raised this with FLIR and the decision did cause a lot of soul searching at the development meetings. In the consumer market that contains many non technical users, marketing is king. First impressions count...... Hence the nice F1G2 design and presentation box! FLIR know that MSX gets in the way of macro working and other technical uses, but the product is consumer centric and not presumer. Sadly a simple MSX disablement option for the user is not on the table for future software releases.
A final note, and sadly not a very happy one. ......... Without quoting anyone, I am very aware that a large company with many products at differing levels of capability and associated cost, may be very careful about the capabilities that are provided by their cheaper products. It is not good business to provide a consumer grade product that can perform as well as your more expensive prosumer or professional products. You effectively undermine sales of your own top end offerings.
As many know, I have a large selection of thermal cameras, ranging from the consumer grade up to the $56K professional models from FLIR and NEC. It is apparent that the capabilities of these cameras have been deliberately set to fit into their various markets and to not compete too much with each other. Even the professional cameras have options that are set in software and not hardware. Some call this hobbling, I call it careful control of capability to meet its target market at a competitive price. Most thermal cameras contain electronics that are far more capable than that being offered to the user. Hardware such as lenses and software set the units limits. The E4 is an example of this, but let us not forget that even in its Virgin state, the E4 was a reasonably priced camera at the time of release. Owners benefitted from work to release its full potential, and apart from the lens, it has been made a most excellent thermal camera for consumer use. The fact that FLIR locked down it's abilities is just a fact of life in this industry. My $56K PM series cameras are all fitted with the optional high temperature filter (1500C) as standard. It is just not enabled as an option in the firmware yet. That option cost a small fortune as an upgrade and is just the setting of a software flag. That's life.
Well I am coming to the end of this epistle now. I leave you with this thought...... How wonderful it would be if a manufacturer of consumer thermal cameras decided to build and release the best thermal camera or core that they were capable of, without concerns about undermining their higher priced, higher spec cameras...... Because they do not offer such anyway ! SEEK could be such a company. They do not have the internal marketing politics of FLIR, NEC, TESTO or FLUKE
That's all folks