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A computer vision thermal imager lets you see in the dark and diagnose problems in your building or anywhere temperatures are important
A computer vision thermal imager lets you see in the dark and diagnose problems in your building or anywhere temperatures are important
502 backers pledged $143,126 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$143,126

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The HemaVision is an intelligent diagnostic thermal imager that includes the components of the Hema-Imager and adds a high-performance quad-core computing processor, a touchscreen display and a visible light camera for image fusion and computer vision tasks. The HemaVision platform also includes computer vision software to enable the advanced automatic diagnosis of problems.

The HemaVision
The HemaVision

The Hema-Imager is a WiFi thermal camera we are also offering as a separate pledge that you can use to stream thermal images to a browser in any WiFi-connected computer, smartphone or tablet. Use it as a node in your internet-of-things project, as security cameras in your home or other building, or as an affordable and radiometric thermal imager when combined with a smartphone. 

The original Hema-Imager Kickstarter campaign, now with the 82x62 sensor
The original Hema-Imager Kickstarter campaign, now with the 82x62 sensor

If you want both devices, simply pledge for one of the two devices, and add the pledge level amount for the other device to your pledge, and you will receive both devices when they ship at the same time! If you are pledging within the early bird period, add the early bird pledge amount to your pledge for the other device. Don't worry, we will be tracking pledges to make sure people who back early will get the discount! 

For a comparison of these two products we are offering, see this handy table.

So why are we working with thermal imaging? Thermal imaging is like a sixth sense that lets you see more in the world around you. The first step in solving a problem is understanding what the problem is. The HemaVision is an open-source advanced thermal imaging device that helps you diagnose a situation to understand if there is a problem within your buliding, equipment or manufacturing process. We have experience in building a WiFi-modularized thermal imaging core that we will be using inside the HemaVision, and we know this core alone can be useful for many people, which is why we are also offering this core alone, as the Hema-Imager.

Stretch goals

Funded! To our backers, thank you! Lets make the HemaVision even better.

  • $175,000 - 6 foot drop test rating  
  • $250,000 - Tough waterproof carrying case 
  • $350,000 - Machine vision sensor with global shutter and built-in HDR 
  • $400,000 - Circuit board water-proofing and device water resistance
  • 100 backers on Hema-Imager - Enclosure option
  • 500 backers on Hema-Imager - Injection-molded case for Hema-Imager

See Update #2 for more details. We've recently announced macro lenses for close-up imaging, see Update #3 for more details on how to add this to your pledge. This video shows the macro lens in action (there are two prototype lenses, we will be selecting the one that give the best flexibility and image quality). 

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What is thermal imaging?

Thermal imaging takes the temperature of things around you and turns it into an image, allowing you to see things you might not have been able to sense otherwise. The way this works is materials all around us give off a small amount of long-wave infrared (LWIR) light. Hotter things give off more light than colder things. Similar to a camera, we can make an image of this light using some optics and an array of special sensors. LWIR light is blocked by many materials (including some things that are transparent to ordinary light, such as plate glass and water) and camera sensors don't see very much of this LWIR light, so special optics and sensors are needed to make a good image, and these are used in modern thermal imaging cameras. Until now, this has always been very expensive. In fact, this page describes a top-selling $1,000 imager as "one of the least expensive infrared cameras available."

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The issue with all thermal imagers is that they show you the temperature of something, but they don’t tell you if that temperature is within a normal range or something you have to be concerned with. Think of a time when you wanted to know if there was a leak behind one of your walls or if a circuit breaker was overloaded. You were most likely uncertain if there was an issue because you couldn't see behind the wall or determine whether the circuit breaker was hot. However, if you did have a thermal imaging device to detect temperature, how would you know what temperature indicates a leaking pipe or if the circuit breaker was running at an abnormally high temperature? And thermal imagers aren't always easy to use. Did you know that if your imager is too far away from a hot wire, the temperature your imager will report is wrong?

With current thermal imagers, both trades professionals and consumers would need training to understand if a temperature is likely to result in an issue. And even if someone was trained, quantitative tasks are time-consuming and require temperatures to be entered into a spreadsheet or program. 

Below is a graphic that shows how the HemaVision would help you diagnose problems in circuit breakers and electrical service equipment by doing the calculations for you and reporting the results in accordance with known standards (IEEE Standard 1458). 

The next graphic shows how the HemaVision will help distinguish water hidden in building materials from other cold sources. It includes a relative humidity sensor so it can calculate the dew point and determine an appropriate temperature threshold, reducing false positives when you're only looking for water.

By looking at a weakly insulated spot, such as the door shown in the graphic below, the HemaVision uses information from local weather feeds to estimate approximate insulation levels and integrate energy loss over that surface.

What makes HemaVision "smart"?

People and their knowledge about problems. No computer is truly smart by programming alone. By working with professionals, we can tap into their knowledge about these scenarios and how temperatures help them diagnose specific situations. With fewer people going into the trades, it is important that this knowledge is recorded so we can all benefit from it. 

Computer vision helps us make thermal imaging more useful by automatically identifying and calculating specific features. For instance, checking the temperature of a hot wire with a thermal imager can be surprisingly tricky. If the wire shows up as less than two pixels wide in the thermal image, the wire temperature reported is wrong. But by marrying computer vision, thermal imaging and some straight-forward physics, we solved this problem. These are the kinds of problems computer vision can help automatically. By pairing these smarts with people smarts, we can solve many common problems.

Specs

The HemaVision pairs a thermal sensor array with a visible light sensor array (basically a regular camera). The HemaVision has a unique shutterless 82x62 thermal diode array that has the best thermal sensitivity in its class and is the best option for a computer vision-enabled imager.

  • Shutterless 82x62 thermal diode imaging array
  • 40x31 degree thermal FOV, 115mK NETD
  • 9Hz frame rate
  • Wide temperature range -4F to 570F (-20C to 300C)
  • 5 megapixel CMOS image sensor
  • 3.2" QVGA color TFT LCD touchscreen
  • WiFi with configurable access point capability
  • Reconfigurable hardware (several printed designs available, including smartphone attachment, tripod stand, drone mount)
  • Reconfigurable computer vision scripting platform
  • 4GB micro-SD card
  • Composite video out
  • Internal 2000mAhr battery with micro-USB port for charging
  • Quad-core ARM A7 processor

There exist higher-resolution thermal imagers, but the next lowest cost radiometric thermal imager with a higher resolution than this is nearly $1000. Its also important to know that higher resolution does NOT always mean better images

We have evaluated all of the low-cost options for the thermal sensor and selected the best one for this application. However, the imaging technology is not the focus, our focus is the full package that we're building. The HemaVision has the sensitivity needed to do temperature-based computations from the images. Put all this together, and the HemaVision has features that are unmatched by any other thermal imager. 

So why move away from a smart-phone attachment?

Seven months ago, we launched the Hema-Imager, a thermal imaging smartphone attachment, because we wanted to create affordable, yet advanced thermal imaging and our plan was to reduce costs using the phone and tap into its processing capability. However, after our campaign ended, we had the opportunity to regroup and we realized that relying on the smartphone will never allow us to create the most useful thermal imager. For example, application development on multiple platforms and phones is needlessly difficult, phones slow down over time for no apparent reason, and they are fragile. If you drop a phone attachment-based imager, you could lose several hundred dollars worth of technology replacing either (or both) device(s). However, there are many people who still want their smartphone to have thermal imaging capabilties, and even more people who want a WiFi thermal camera, and by using our existing Hema-Imager design, we can support two products that share these important internal components.

Furthermore, we wanted to be able to create specific applications using a scripting language such as python. Python and our image processing library runs inside linux on the HemaVision, enabling us to create many applications. This will also enable you to create custom applications, if you like, or you can tell us about your application and we can help build it. The HemaVision software will be open source and will be retained in a publicly-accessible database. Finally, you can connect to it, control it or modify it through a web browser running in any operating system.

Hacking the HemaVision and Hema-Imager

Not only is the software reconfigurable, but the hardware making up the HemaVision is completely reconfigurable as well. You'll be able to connect the thermal imaging module to any other computing platform, or perhaps mount the computer vision and thermal imaging module to a drone, and stream the images to a connected smartphone or tablet. You may even want to try to fly your drone using the computer vision module alone! Finally, we're producing several different 3D printable cases, that you can order from a 3D printer online, so that in addition to our nice, consumer friendly (and robust) case, you can have the HemaVision in whatever form factor you want! For the Hema-Imager, initially all cases will be 3D printed, here are two designs based on the OpenMV combined with the HTPA82x62 (Hema-Imager+OpenMV), but can be used with the Hema-Imager alone.

There will be several enhancements coming after the Kickstarter and before we ship, including a 2 or 3x lens and possibly a telephoto lens. Our development partner has already created several lenses with in-house machining and with lens manufacturers in China for other thermal imaging systems and has obtained macro lenses for the HemaVision and Hema-Imager (see update #4). With these lenses, you will be able to use the HemaVision for close-up circuit and other work and for longer distances.

HemaVision development and delivery timeline

The application software on the HemaVision will be continually updated over time. When we ship the HemaVision to you, it will include the applications we introduced above. It will also have the usual record, store and playback functions of typical thermal imagers, but ours will be so much easier to use. Object recognition will be a part of the initial release, but you will notice it improving in the first few months after we ship, as we add images and labels to our databases. There are many new functions we will be adding and the user interface and image processing will just keep getting better over time. 

Once we are funded, we will continue hardware development, and prepare to place our order of the thermal sensors with Heimann Sensors. These sensors are more difficult to make than the thermopile arrays Heimann is also known for, and some parts of the sensors are coming from other manufacturing partners. Production takes at least four months from order. Final assembly and testing will require one month following the arrival of the thermal sensors. We have plenty of development work ahead of us to take our prototype to a product, but fortunately, that is where we excel. Our development and shipping timeline is shown below:

Our goal is to ship ten months from now. Our scripts make it easy for us to generate new computer vision applications, so the software will continually evolve, but we plan to ship with fully functional software for all the applications we've described, and a few others. Hardware development is nearly complete on our second prototype (first prototype shown in the video) and will be shared as soon as it is ready. We will work on our board layout over the next 3 months. We have carefully planned out our development, testing and production schedule and are looking forward to dedicating all our time to getting you your devices.

2014 press and CES 2015

 Since last summer, we appeared in several blogs and local tradeshows. Our next tradeshow will be in Baltimore at DSS 2015, the best place to show off whats new in thermal imaging. If you really want to get to know what we're doing, check out this video interview, by a wonderful electronics video blogger named Martin Lorton, and the follow-up video by Martin showing a circuit board build by Erik. 

MJ Lorton interview and board build
MJ Lorton interview and board build

Prior to CES 2015, Erik was also interviewed by the Case Observer. We have been working with highly experienced business advisors through Cleveland Jumpstart, a business development non-profit with a strong record of helping their companies get to the next level. We continue to work with advisors at MAGNET, a unique manufacturing support organization, who helped us validate our manufacturing plans before we started working with contract manufacturers last year. 

Most recently, we exhibited at CES 2015 and met with executives from a large thermal imaging company that is known for and continues to do great work in the field of thermal imaging. Is is our hope the HemaVision will help our new friends get thermal imaging into the hands of more people.

Thanks to our supporters

We wouldn't be here without your support! By backing us, you're helping us make this a reality. Thank you!

We've had a lot of help brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and all the other things that go into a project like this, and we'd like to give a special thanks to some of those people here: Andy Rawson, Jeff Bargiel, Donald Matthews, Tim Hansen, Kara Carter, Bill Nemeth, Bob Sopko, Mike Caparanis, Andy Sobotka, David Crain, Bruce Terry, Taylor Haddix, Dave Chason, Ken Burns, Jeff Taylor, Mat Hanson, Bob Scaccia and the good people at Jumpstart, MAGNET, Bizdom and Blackstone Launchpad.

Heimann Sensor

Heimann Sensor GmbH is a developer and manufacturer of thermopile arrays for thermal sensing and other infrared sensors, and leads the world in thermopile array technology and now are the experts in thermal diode array technology. Boston Electronics is the U.S. distributor of Heimann technology and are well-known in the photonics community for their expertise.

Team

The main crew at Hema Imaging includes:

Erik is a scientist by day, thermal imaging obsessive by night. He is NIH-funded for functional MRI image processing algorithms he developed, and wants to bring that expertise to helping consumers. 

Courtney helps everyone understand what Erik is trying to get across, especially for the less technical information. With a background in marketing and communications, she makes it possible for us to spread the word in a way that even less tech-savvy people understand.

Mehrdad eats, breathes, and sleeps electrical engineering and firmware. With over a dozen commercial products released and many still shipping today in the tens of thousands of units per year, Mehrdad works hard to make sure his devices function with minimal power requirements and maximum robustness.

Ben has been studying the intersection of of technology, aesthetics, and their effects on the lives of people since he was a child. He enjoys travel, learning new things and solving problems.

Risks and challenges

The HemaVision is currently a prototype and we need to complete our final board design. We have experience in going from prototype to product, designing for manufacturing and working with contract manufacturers. We have more partners helping us build the product, and advisors helping on business development (the Cleveland JumpStart program, Case Western Reserve University's Blackstone Launchpad and MAGNET). Finally, the 82x62 is finally now in mass-production, reducing costs and increasing availability.

We will keep close watch over our supply chain, but it is always possible that a component we have ordered will not arrive in the time we need. If you are backing our project, you will receive a status report update every other week on each development component remaining and how we are addressing any delays and unforeseen problems.

For manufacturing a product, it is critical to maintain regular communication and site-visits to manufacturing partners leading up to and during product assembly and shipping. This is the greatest benefit of using local suppliers, and we intend to fully use this to our advantage in turning out a quality product on time.

We will ship to the address you specify in the backer survey that we will send out by May 10th. Several weeks prior to shipping, we will confirm your address in an email. It will have your estimated ship date and two links in it, one to click on if the address is correct and confirmed, and a second link to click on if there is a mistake or you will be moving addresses near your expected ship date. If you click the second link, we will contact you to correct your address. In every case, we will confirm your address before we ship.

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    Hema-Imager WiFi thermal camera! Pledge level for one Hema-Imager, contains the same thermal sensor as the HemaVision, streams thermal images to a browser on any connected computer, tablet or smartphone. Note: does not contain the display, optical camera or high powered computing processor in the HemaVision.

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    Hema-Imager WiFi thermal camera! Pledge level for one Hema-Imager, contains the same thermal sensor as the HemaVision, streams thermal images to a browser on any connected computer, tablet or smartphone. Note: does not contain the display, optical camera or high powered computing processor in the HemaVision.

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    2 Hema-Imager WiFi thermal cameras! Build up a thermal security system or monitor your heating and air conditioning. Pledge level for two Hema-Imagers (see regular Hema-Imager pledge level for details) and save $40.

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    3 Hema-Imager WiFi thermal cameras! Build up a thermal security system or monitor your heating and air conditioning. Pledge level for three Hema-Imagers (see regular Hema-Imager pledge level for details) and save $60.

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Funding period

- (28 days)