On a chilly night just before Thanksgiving, I hopped into the back seat of a Ford Escape and went for a ride around Belmont. On the car’s roof was a sleek shell case for sports gear. But there were holes cut in the left and right sides of the case, and instead of skis, a pair of thermal imaging cameras were stashed inside.
The cameras were designed to take pictures of homes on either side of the car as we roamed the streets of Belmont — pictures of heat seeping out from windows, eaves, and inadequately insulated walls. Rather than Google’s StreetView, this was what you might call HeatView. From the front seat, Brad Harkavy, chief operating officer of Sagewell, the Woburn company that operates the car, told me the company could collect thermal images of more than 10,000 homes a night.