The new Cat S60 smartphone is similar in some ways to the equipment manufacturer’s heavy machinery: It is water-resistant and has a shock-resistant steel frame. But this phone, which debuted last month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, boasts a factory equipped thermal imaging camera, something novel to both heavy equipment and mobile devices.
“We are the first cellphone to incorporate a regular digital camera and an infrared camera,” says Phil Raso, program manager, brand licensing, at Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar. “There’s a lot of Cat DNA in the phone. The ruggedness and toughness,” he says. But Cat’s involvement doesn’t extend beyond branding and marketing, he adds. Bullitt Group Ltd., New York City, which manufactures the phone, also licenses the Cat brand.
The thermal imaging camera is powered by FLIR Systems’ Lepton microcamera module and the FLIR @Work app that comes pre-installed on the device. The sensor functions up to 100 ft away, through both smoke and darkness, says Raso. Further, it can sense heat differentials as low as 2°F.
The infrared sensor has a raw resolution of 80 x 60 pixels but, used in conjunction with the phone’s 13-megapixel digital camera, it can create 640 x 480 pixel thermal images. Raso says some uses for the tool include locating a hot water leak or lack of insulation through a wall. “You can hold it up to a window to see where cold air is coming in,” he says. “The thermal imaging camera can also tell you the propane level on a propane tank.”
The S60 shoots digital and thermal video underwater, down to 15 ft. Users must close the port covers on the phone to ensure waterproofing; if the flaps aren’t closed, the phone is water resistant to only 6 ft. Raso says the S60 is built tough: It’s designed to withstand a 6-ft drop onto concrete. Its touch screen is built to work well with gloves or wet fingers.
The Cat S60 runs on Android’s Marshmallow operating system, sports 32GB of internal storage and a 3,800-mAh battery, and costs $599. Raso says an unlocked version is coming out this summer in Europe and hitting the U.S. market later this year.