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Seek Compact Thermal Camera (iOS) Review

The Seek Compact Thermal Camera for mobile devices is one of the coolest smartphone add-ons we’ve seen.

Chances are, that if you’re a regular watcher of movies and TV, or a video game fan, then you’re probably all too familiar with the technology that is ‘thermal imaging’. But although the Predator used it to scope out Arnold and his squad in the dense jungles and ghost chasers regularly employ it to track down the supernatural, it’s really not found its way to the consumer level as of yet. Well, till now anyway.

This one’s a first for me, and let me tell you, it’s one of the coolest devices (far and away) that I’ve been able to test out here at BG. I mean, this thing’s basically straight-up sci-fi, military-grade tech, only it’s real… and basically all you have to do to use it is plug it into your phone. I guess it’s a little more complex than that, but only just.

Downloading the Seek app and plugging the camera into the lightning connector on my iPhone (there’s one for Android handsets as well) caused my iPhone 6 to instantly ask to open up the application. One tap to confirm later, and my phone could suddenly see the thermal spectrum, and see it perfectly.

To put it mildly, I’m blown away by the quality that Seek has built into this thing. Check out the video below to see it in action:

Seek Compact Product Tour from Seek Thermal on Vimeo.

You can view (as I understand it) an extremely wide-range of the thermal spectrum as well with this little guy, with an announced -40° up to 626° Fahrenheit being viewable. I imagine that’s about as much of a spread as anyone would realistically want too, probably more so. After all, if you’re in temps of less than -40 or over 626, well I don’t think taking pics is really going to be your primary concern.

As you can see in the video, you can spot just about everything in range with the Seek. Aside from obvious heat sources and things that are plainly visible, you can also see heat through walls and brush with the device, and it’s fully capable of being used both indoors and out. I’ll add on here though, that while the Compact can be used anywhere you like, it is recommended for indoor use since it has a wide 36 degree viewing angle and 1000 foot range. While that’s impressive, it’s cousin the Compact XR narrows the field a bit at 20 degrees, but comes up with an extra 800 feet of range in the trade-off. Food for thought, depending on where you’re mainly intending to use the device.

While range and viewing angles depend on which Seek Compact you pick up, the time of day that you use them in means little, since the camera works off of heat and not your typical visual input. You can also use it in broad daylight or a well-lit room since this isn’t night vision, so there’s no light-sensitivity issue to worry about. And at night? That’s when the Seek really shines.

I’ve used night vision goggles before, and while they’re great fun, the Seek’s thermal capability just seems so much cooler. And that’s basically because you can not just see stuff moving around and get the lay of the land in pitch-darkness, but also highlight stuff that’s alive, thanks to the fact that everything with a pulse gives off heat.

And much like on those ghost chaser shows, you can see both heat and cool spots. So theoretically, I guess you could use the Seek Compact to look for possibly-unwanted, spectral residents of your home, since spirits are alleged to create cold-spots. You didn’t hear that from me though.

A little more on the everyday side of things are the recommended uses for the Seek Compact. Seek suggests that this little tool is a “perfect” addition to the inventory of anyone who’s a homeowner, contractor, or inspector, since you do have that ability to view sites where energy loss is happening, warm or cool air is escaping (or entering), and even make note of electrical hazards.

Helping to see just what’s hot and what’s cold is a suite of built-in tools, contained within the accompanying app. You can choose how you view heat-sources, like in black and white or color, and even activate a pair of stamps that will add themselves to the main screen. Using these two boxes, you’ll be able to see the high and low temp on what’s in any image that you have in the viewfinder. It’s really cool and an easy way to see what it is that you’re looking at in a written format.

You can also take snapshots of what you see, and even record video, all of which just adds to what this little beauty can do. And much like everything else that you record on your phone, the still pics and video are shareable however you like, thanks to the fact that they’re saved to your standard ‘pictures’ folder, and not something specific to the Seek app.

As for the device itself, it’s incredibly small for what it is. I couldn’t imagine the hardware was easy to fit into such a compact package, but here it is, stunningly small and lightweight, adding little weight onto the handset. It’s also built with a magnesium shell, so it’s pretty sturdy too.

The device has a focusing ring as well, that surrounds the aperture, which works exactly how you’d think. You simply adjust the ring to get a little extra detail on your images. It’s as easy as spotting a full-roaming, vaporous apparition… actually, forget I said that.

One more little note here, as you’ll also get a waterproof case with the attachment. The case is just a bit bigger than the camera, and features a soft, padded interior that snugly holds onto the Seek Compact, and a plastic outer shell that closes tight with a ‘click’. I’d imagine that the Seek Compact could probably get ‘slimed’ with this case on and come out unscathed. You know, if you were to use it around something like a ghost.

Final Thoughts

Okay, so this one’s a little different for us, but it’s just so cool that we couldn’t resist having a look at it. Personally, I think if you’re a sic-fi fan who hasn’t imagined using some kind of thermal imaging device, you’re a bit off.

The Seek Compact is about as sci-fi as you can get in terms of attachments for your smartphone, and works flawlessly both indoors and out, in day or at night. Simply put, the Seek Compact is an awesome little device that does exactly what you’d want it to. It works perfectly and is well-worth a look if you could use a thermal camera for work or even hobby photography.

You can spot anything with a heat signature, see temperature variations, and even spy lurking phantoms. Or not. Don’t worry about that last part.


This review was based upon a Seek Compact Thermal Camera for iOS that was supplied to BG by Seek.

About Jason Micciche

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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