This week, Caterpillar unveiled a rugged smartphone with a built-in thermal camera at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. To create the phone, Caterpillar, a brand that is better known for heavy construction equipment than consumer electronics, partnered with Flir, a company that specializes in thermal imaging cameras. Flir’s technology was previously available as an iPhone phone case and then later as a small device that could plug into most smartphones, but this is the first time a thermal camera has been embedded right into a phone.
While the thermal imaging is a fun feature, the Cat S60 isn’t ideal for everyone, because it is much bulkier than most smartphones. But this phone isn’t aimed at the average consumer—it is built to be tough enough to survive construction sites, so that builders, plumbers, and electricians can use it on the job. A durable steel frame, plus the heat sensor, and a 3,800 mAh battery make the phone measure more than half an inch thick. Certain users won’t mind sacrificing size for the ability to survive being dropped on concrete floors (it passes the military’s Spec 810G drop test). The S60 can also be made waterproof by flipping a couple of switches to seal off the speaker, headphone port, and microphone openings. The phone can actually be used under water, because its Gorilla Glass touchscreen display can be used with wet fingers or while wearing gloves.
To stand out from the crowd in today’s smartphone market requires true innovation and we are proud to partner with FLIR to announce what is truly a world’s first. The Cat S60 represents a milestone for smartphones. We are excited for thermal technology to be in the hands of Cat phones customers and to discover the myriad of daily time and efficiency use cases it will present for them.
The thermal camera is located right next to the phone’s 13-megapixel rear camera, so you can use them together to take a picture that puts the heat map in context. Flir’s camera can see through smoke and measure surface temperatures from as far as 50 to 100 feet away. It can be used in real-time, but users can also take a picture to look at later, because the temperature data will be stored in the photo’s metadata. (This would be an interesting way for a contractor to make a “before and after” comparison to demonstrate the effectiveness of insulation.) The phone is expected to come out in June selling for $599.