Chicago’s Mu Optics Develops Low-Cost Imaging Camera to Detect Home Heating Loss
Smartphone Attachable Home Improvement Devise Attracts $155,000 in Indiegogo Crowd-funding Campaign
By: Mu Optics
Mu Optics' goal is to raise $200,000 through the crowd-funding site, says John McGrath, the company's founder and a Chicago film studio executive, who devised the imager while thinking of ways he could actually see where heat losses were occurring in his home. McGrath suspected heat loss was the reason his heating bill last fall was shockingly high. Walking around his 107-year old house, he thought how convenient it would be if he could use his smartphone to identify heat and cold in places other than obvious windows and doors.
The result is the Mu Optics infrared imaging tool - a camera device - developed by McGrath and his engineering team. The imager attaches securely to both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets and functions through smartphone and tablet touchscreens.
McGrath's Mu Optics company will introduce complete prototypes of the reasonably priced new product at the May 7 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.
The camera has a visual range in the infrared spectrum of seven to 14 micrometers, which allows the user to "see" the temperature, in red/heat and blue/cold, of almost anything in the range of -86 to 285 degrees Fahrenheit (-66 to 140 Celsius).
"Its applications are limitless," McGrath states. While designed primarily as a reasonably priced tool to help homeowners identify and repair heat losses, mold issues and faulty electrical connections before they become dangerous, it can be economically utilized by the insurance industry and building trades.
"On a personal level," McGrath notes, "you can find lost pets in the dark, use it for nature exploration and know just how cold your children's toes are when they ask you to turn up the heat."
Expected functionality includes: Ease of operation, still and video image capture at a high resolution of 160x120, H.264 video recording, no recording time limits beyond a device's memory limitations, selection of specific points for temperature information, zoom window for pin-point accuracy, blending and splits of regular images with the thermal images for easier identification of issues, selection of Fahrenheit or Celsius, a crosshair with point temperature readings. Photos and videos can be easily shared via email or SMS.
Its onboard battery recharges through standard USB; battery life is expected to be greater than three hours.
Overall, the detection accessory delivers a capability that previously had been available only to building and heating professionals at a cost of $2,200 to $22,000. Its expected retail cost of approximately $350 at retail outlets makes it accessible to homeowners.
The IndieGoGo campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/