The Infrared Street View is an award-winning project with an ambition to engage the public, especially youth, to create a thermal equivalent of Google’s Street View (Figure 1) in order to raise public awareness of energy efficiency and promote STEM education through citizen science. The project is based on affordable thermal cameras such as FLIR ONE that cost $100–200 (depending on the image resolution generated by the device) for educators and the SmartIR app that I have been developing to support science and education based on thermal vision.
Thanks to the funding from the National Science Foundation, we have begun the experimental infrared scanning of public sites on east and west coasts (Figure 2). We chose public sites to avoid potential issues related to the disclosure of thermal signatures of private properties (for those who are concerned about privacy of humans, pedestrians accidentally included in our thermal images are hardly identifiable by a viewer). The purpose in this pilot phase is to test our technologies in real-world settings and gather preliminary research data for thermal analysis. This blog post introduces our technologies and shows some rudimentary results.
On a smartphone, Infrared Street View works in a way similar to Google Street View. It provides a tool for creating 360° thermal images and a viewer for interacting with those images in either a window mode or a full-screen mode (Figure 3).
Figure 4 shows some images of Boston displayed in the Infrared Street View embedded in SmartIR.
Figure 5 shows that users can quantitatively analyze thermal data with built-in tools such as thermometers, graphs, and isotherm lines. With these analytical tools, the entire Infrared Street View could become a massive resource for students to explore science in their world. This may be beneficiary to those from underserved communities who do not have access to thermal cameras.
Research is under way to exploit the thermal data gathered through the Infrared Street View project.