Originally Posted by doba_s
The same one that BMW uses
So that means the one available on the 5-series which I have.
This system is in my opinion a novelty item. It's fun, it's cool, but it's borderline useless. I'm not saying "Don't get it", just read on...
You can't use it to drive at anything other than fairly slow speed, say 25 mph or less. The resolution and clarity of the image are not good enough to drive faster, safely anyway. Not to mention the image is on the iDrive screen, to the side, and not in front of you. You lose peripheral vision although the image is "artificially" steered if you are using the "zoom" mode (don't know if that is part of this setup or not). Bobbing your head back and forth between looking out the windshield and the iDrive is tiring and probably ill advised. Now having a passenger monitor the display might be a winner.
(Also the image freezes for a fraction of a second every few seconds. This is normal operation for this type of imaging system, there is some digital processing going on collating several discrete images to form a composite, I presume to compensate for failed CCD elements and avoid image artifacts that would otherwise be apparent, and unacceptable to the customer. It is a bit distracting however.)
Yes, it is very good at showing hot or relatively warm items, exhausts and tires/brakes mostly. People and animals are visible but unless they are running say, generating significant body heat, they are not as visible as one might think. Roadside objects, the shoulder, overpasses, etc. appear as ghostly images which makes sense as they tend to take on a temperature of the ambient atmosphere. Remember that this applies to the road itself. Lane markers typically are invisible through this.
In a sparsely populated/built up rural area I do think there is some potential but I have not had the opportunity to use it in one (ask me in 6 months). In an urban area it's as I said, borderline useless (but fun and cool!).
Most importantly fog and rain render the system useless. The reason is that the water vapor is of sufficient density in the air that it attenuates the spectral frequency on which this system is dependent. You would hope this is when the system would shine but it doesn't and can't. In fact there have been times when I could see better out the windshield than I could via the FLIR.
This isn't meant to slam the system or this vendor who has made it available. I'm sure that took some effort and investment and I think the fact a vendor, or a member, would do something like that is great. It benefits us all. I simply want people to understand that there are limitations especially in a passive near-infrared system like this one.
So enjoy but have reasonable expectations.