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VIDEO: Afraid of the dark?

Boating at night and in other low-visibility conditions can be a challenging experience. Thermal imaging cameras vastly improve what the helmsman can see, and FLIR Systems is bringing this technology to more boaters — and at a more affordable price — with its First Mate MS marine scope.

"The handheld unit is small, light and marinized," says Andrew C. Teich, president of FLIR Commercial Vision Systems, which also owns electronics manufacturer Raymarine. "And we've brought the price point down to just under $2,000. This is a product that can get thermal imaging into the hands of every boater."

Click play to watch FLIR senior sales manager Tom Milanette points out the features of the First Mate MS.

Weighing just 12 ounces, the First Mate MS uses the same thermal imaging technology as FLIR'S larger Navigator II, Voyager and M-Series cameras. The battery-powered camera displays images on a color LCD in white hot, black hot and marine red.

Prior to the First Mate MS, the First Mate was FLIR's least expensive hand-held camera. This larger unit, which can store images and video on an SD card, costs about $3,000.

FLIR was founded in 1978 and entered the recreational marine market in 2006. "[Thermal imaging] technology is not a new technology, and I think that is what a lot of mariners in the recreational marine market are understanding now," Milanette says. "We've made thermal cameras for maritime applications and military applications for a very long time now. There is a tremendous amount of technology here, and we've put it in a compact thermal imaging scope."