Infrared Thermography: Fun Toy or Practical Tool?

Two case studies show how smartphone infrared cameras could be used by farriers

Is there a practical use for thermal imagery within a farrier practice? That point can be debated. However, with access to technology and the increasing affordability of said technology, it certainly is a possibility now on smartphones.

In recent months, two companies have made digital thermal cameras available at competitive prices that work with smartphones. There are available options as independent handheld units, but these often retail from a few thousand dollars up to about $35,000, making those models impractical from a financial sense for the general consumer.

However, there are some nuances about these cameras that need to be understood in regard to how they will work in the farrier’s realm. There are also some legal issues that need to be addressed in regard to their use by a farrier, and what constitutes practicing veterinary medicine.

FLIR One. Retailing at about $200, this model attaches to your smartphone in the form of a case, and offers two cameras that overlay the thermal image with a photo to give the end user a “pretty” picture. However, in our world of farriery, “pretty” isn’t always practical.

The FLIR One detects a range from 32° F to 212° F, so it is well within a range necessary for how we would use it with a horse. Maybe that is somewhat limited to how it would be used for different needs in which a higher temperature ceiling is needed.

A new, updated FLIR One model will be introduced at the end of…

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Nicholas denson 2019

Nicholas B Denson

Nicholas B. Denson is a Sagamore Beach, Mass., farrier specializing in therapeutic and performance hoof-care.

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