We're now well within the midst of a gold rush, when it comes to smartphone cases that "do things." Recent examples include models that shoot pepper spray, serve as health monitors, and double as game controllers. The Raspberry Pi-based NVC (Night Vision Camera) case, however, has its own trick up its sleeve – it lets the iPhone 6 see in the dark.
Another is to get the FLIR ONE case, which is handier than the adapters because it's always with the phone – just like the NVC. It utilizes thermal imaging technology, in which even very small amounts of heat emitted by objects (including inanimate ones) is amplified and used to create an image.
The NVC takes a simpler approach, which is reflected in its lower price. It uses eight infrared LEDs to illuminate subjects up to 30 feet (9 m) away. That light isn't visible to the human eye, but it is to the 720p infrared camera built into the case. Power is provided by an integrated 2,000-mAh lithium-polymer battery, that should provide two to four hours of use per charge. If needed, that battery can also be used to power the phone.
Additionally, because the NVC uses its own camera and battery, it can be taken off the phone and set in a remote location (such as a sleeping baby's room), then monitored on the phone via Wi-Fi. The case can also store its own footage, as it has a microSD memory card slot.
MSM Labs, the Maryland-based designer of the NVC, is now raising production funds on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$129 will get you one, when and if they're ready to go. The estimated retail price is $149, which is about $100 less than the FLIR ONE.
For now at least, the NVC only fits the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – although it can be accessed remotely by other makes and models. You can see footage shot with it in the following pitch video.