Caterpillar Delivers Industrial-Grade Thermal Imaging S60 Smartphone

by Matt Klassen on February 25, 2016

cat-s60-leadWhile I often avoid product reviews like the plague, every once in awhile a smartphone comes along that stands out from the crowd of cookie-cutter mobile platforms, and when that original idea comes not from a Silicon Valley mainstay, but from a global leader in manufacturing construction and mining equipment, let’s just say it piques my interest.

So it was when the release announcement of Caterpillar’s S60 smartphone rolled across my desk earlier this week, a phone that stands out not for its sleek design, its intuitive interface, or its cutting edge processor, but for its rugged everyman appeal…oh ya, and that awesome FLIR thermal imaging camera, I just had to say something.

In fact, the smartphone’s thermal imaging is what truly sets it apart, a boon for blue collar workers in a variety of industries, offering users the ability to see through things (to a degree), to delve deeper into projects before that first cut is made, or to even see things in the human body not readily apparent on the outside. Couple this revolutionary tool with a rugged body design that almost completely foregoes grace and style in favour of pure functionality and grit, and you truly have a phone that wants to work as hard as you do.

Now let’s get one thing straight: the S60 is probably not your next phone. It’s designed specifically for a few small niche markets, ones like construction, mining, plumbing, and electrical; industries that, by and large, Cat already dominates with its ubiquitous brand of tools and heavy machinery. But that said, with a thermal imaging camera that makes one feel like the Predator hunting Arnold Schwarzenegger through the jungle, I’m already hooked.

Consider the benefits of thermal imaging when it comes to detecting heat loss in a home, or identifying faulty wiring or overheating circuitry, or, if nothing else, the ability to see these things in the dark, when it comes to these certain targeted industries, it seems like the uses for the features of this phone are limitless.

Industrial applications aside, the FLIR thermal imaging technology imbedded in this phone makes it a perfect companion for emergency services as well, as not only can paramedics immediately get a read on a person’s body temperature or other key visuals, but police will be able to scan areas better for heat signals, indicating the presence of possible suspects or those in need.

Not only that, but the form factor of Cat’s S60 stands apart from the rest of the smartphone crowd because it purposely ignores everything that every one else is trying to do. As CNET’s Katie Collins explains, “Whereas most phones are all smooth lines and sleek ergonomics, the Cat phone is unabashedly bumpy. It may not be pretty, but it’s also not going to slip out of your hand. And even if it does, it’s more than likely it’ll survive unscathed, as it’s built to withstand a fall onto concrete from a height of 1.8 metres (5.9 feet).”

I’ll be honest, I love when non-traditional mobile players take a stab at creating niche smartphones, for whether they’re ultra-secure “black” phones or rugged, everyman industrial devices, they always strike me as considerably more cool than anything available in the consumer market. Not that I need one, but I’m sure someone does, and that’s the point really.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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