CAT S60 : The world’s first smartphone which can see in total darkness with integrated FLIR thermal camera

CAT, a rugged phone manufacturer, has collaborated with FLIR Systems, to bring its thermal imaging technology into a new flagship smartphone. Dubbed as CAT S60, this smartphone can dive underwater, see through smoke, and can also run Android Marshmallow. The CAT S60 handset is designed for utility and construction workers as well as those, who work in harsh environments.

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The CAT S60 is a 4G LTE smartphone with a 3,800 mAh battery that owners of thinner and lighter phones might kill for. With its ruggedized case, it is designed to withstand drops onto concrete from up to 1.8 meters, and can even be used underwater (up to five meters depth) for one hour. The CAT S60 has special switches to block speaker and microphones when used underwater. However, if you forget to close these first, water’s going to find its way in once you go below two meters. Another thing that needs to be covered is the slots for dual SIM cards and a microSD card.

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“We put it on the back, not the side, because otherwise it’s a structural weakness,” said Tim Shepherd of Bullitt Group, the company that designs and manufactures CAT phones under license. Bullitt is debuting the phone at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week. It also makes ruggedized phones for JCB, even though those are feature phones, not smartphones.

The phone’s major selling point is thermal camera module made by FLIR that uses the same Lepton image sensor as FLIR’s add-on modules for iPhones and Android phones. It has a raw resolution of 80 by 60 infrared pixels, but with some clever processing of the image from the adjacent 13 megapixel visible light camera, which can be interpolated up to a 640-by-480-pixel thermal image. An app allows readout of the approximate temperature with a tap on the screen.

 

It can visualise heat as a colourful map, taking measurements from up to 30 metres (100 feet) away even through smoke or other things that may block a regular sensor. It can also be used for huge number of tasks, from detecting heat loss around windows and doors to identifying overheating circuitry, or just seeing in the dark.

“It’s accurate to 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit,” said FLIR’s Bruce Cumming. “For home inspectors and insurance loss adjusters, it’s a good enough technology,” he said, but recommended that they get trained in basic thermography first.

The device will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 and has 3GB of RAM. The CAT S60 features a 4.7” capacitive multi-touch display with 1280×720 resolution and improved brightness (540 nits) that can be used with wet fingers or gloves. The screen is protected with 1mm Gorilla Glass 4. Further, it will come with 32GB of internal storage.

On the camera front, it has a 13MP main camera with dual-LED flash as well as a 5MP front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, an FM radio tuner, Bluetooth wireless technologies, barometer and altimeter sensors. It supports location tracking using GPS, assisted-GPS, Glonass, and even the Chinese Beidou satellite network. The phone can be connected to a PC or a charger using a micro-USB port.

The CAT 360 is expected to go on sale later this year, priced at about $599 (excluding sales tax) or €649 (including value-added tax) for an unlocked version.

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