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As cool as thermal cameras may be, they’re not usually very bright — they may show you something hiding in the dark, but they won’t do much with it. FLIR wants to change that with its new Boson thermal camera module. The hardware combines a long wave infrared camera with a Movidius vision processing unit, giving the camera a dash of programmable artificial intelligence. Device makers can not only use those smarts for visual processing (like reducing noise), but some computer vision tasks as well — think object detection, depth calculations and other tasks that normally rely on external computing power.
You’ll have to wait for companies to integrate Boson before you see it in products you can buy. However, its mix of AI and compact size could bring smart thermal imaging to gadgets where it’s not normally practical, such as home security systems, drones and military gear. You may well see a surge in devices that can recognize the world around them in any lighting condition — even in total darkness.