A thermal camera has a sensor that detects heat, including body temperature. It portrays an infrared image via a thermal imager, reading the image in the infrared spectrum. Different from night vision in that thermal imaging detects thermal energy, or heat, emitting off an object, not the infrared light reflecting off of it. Objects that give off heat will show on the infrared thermal spectrum from red to white. White being the hottest. The human body is thermal. We have a blackbody, meaning we naturally emit heat upwards of 100 degrees. Because of this, our body will show thermal images in the infrared spectrum on an infrared camera.
Using a thermographic camera to detect fever during the COVID-19 crisis can save many healthcare employees from unnecessary exposure to the virus. Using a highly accurate thermal imager and blackbody 100-degree image, we can detect fever over 100 within a .5 degree variance for accuracy.
A camera sensor detecting fever can help you reduce the number of individuals exposed to the virus. A thermal camera installed, or mounted on a tripod, remotely controlled, lowers the contact of admitting personnel and those at high-risk. Remote handling protects those who can now stay behind glass or a desk. The imaging camera will focus on the chokepoint that visitors enter through, thus allowing for fever detection before entering the building. During the COVID-19 crisis, you may choose to have anyone who is detected positive for fever enter through a separate door, or answer select questions before entry. You may also direct them to a separate waiting room to reduce exposure to those waiting who do not show the fever symptom.
Uphold social distancing further by removing the nurse from taking a physical temp with a thermometer. The thermographic camera can be software linked to the patient’s chart. The camera can be guided by a nurse remotely and charted without direct exposure. Healthcare professionals also must ask numerous questions, a process that requires someone else’s susceptibility. If you have already been detected positive for fever, they can ask questions through glass or some other means of keeping a safe distance. Our recent blog, Coronavirus Emergency Preparedness for Business, discusses other frontend hardening options and measures that can increase safety and security in the workplace. Although we can not avoid exposure to everyone, we can drastically reduce the number of employees compromised.
When used in a pharmacy, workers may ask those with fever detected to use the drive-through window or can sanitize the counter space after a customer showing a temperature picks up medication. Software integration may allow for a message to come across to the pharmacy, indicated as a simple message that it is time to wipe down the counters. These directions can go off after a person with fever has been serviced and periodically throughout the day to ensure continued cleansing and reduced exposure.
The thermal camera can be extremely accurate when installed correctly. Correct installation requires there to be a known-temperature calibration unit (known as a blackbody device) installed within the field of view of the thermal camera. A typical building entrance or lobby scenario, the thermal camera points at the entrance, and the blackbody device are mounted next to or above the doorway. Together, the thermal camera and blackbody device can deliver temperature measurement accuracy greater than .5 degrees Fahrenheit. The camera will automatically detect within a millisecond if the person passed or failed the fever test. That person can quickly be directed on the actions your institution has set in place.
Thermal imaging is used to detect a temperature measurement difference or degree. Industries use this technology to identify temperature differences, such as machinery that may be overheating, or heat-loss through windows and doors for home inspections. The detection of body temperature can also help military and emergency responders to detect people in the dark or through a building filled with smoke. Finally, as we see today, the healthcare industry can benefit from identifying fever in patients.
There are many makes and models of thermal imaging cameras and devices. Some popular thermal imaging cameras, such as FLIR thermal cameras and handheld units, are made to measure and monitor broad temperature ranges in machinery or structures. These are not intended or reliable for use in human body temperature readings. Even the most expensive thermal cameras and handhelds used for industrial machine monitoring and building inspection have stated accuracies of no better than +/- 3 degrees Celsius. That’s plus or minus more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit; nowhere near the less than .5 degree Fahrenheit of accuracy needed to effectively and confidently detect individuals with fevers as they enter a building or lobby.
Chimera Integrations is one of a handful of security companies that are combining thermal cameras with software. Integrating the camera into the database has many possible values for the employer and the human resources department. For instance, a positive fever during the Coronavirus pandemic will automatically trigger a “you can not work for 14 days” quarantine on the employee and message the employee, security, and human resources. You are streamlining the data entry and reporting process, and alerting need to know personnel immediately. The software can then track to see how many people are out and when they will return. Database integration can also send an email or text with an employee picture to all fellow employees. It will automatically send a quick survey explaining the degrees of contact, close, medium, or none, and begin contact tracing. It will monitor and report which individuals have and have not responded to the poll. Through contact tracing data, you’re instantly on top of what level of contact and potential exposure and who has been jeopardized. Human resources and department managers can review the records to make informed decisions based on levels of contact.
Absolutely not! First, researchers anticipate that the virus will resurface this autumn and that other similar illnesses will be to come. When the COVID-19 crisis subsides, the thermal imaging camera can connect to the overall video surveillance system without necessarily having to stop individuals or automatically send alerts. Just because the pandemic has passed does not make the technology and benefits any less useful. In fact, it will keep employees better prepared for the next case. This technology can have a low-level security purpose year-round, charting body temperature, and fever. Then resume to high-level security, restricting access or special instructions, when another crisis arises.
Furthermore, with the system integrated, it will chart and analyze data to anticipate rising crises before the numbers reach out of control. As with any computer system, it can interpret and control data better and faster than a human. A human’s perception of what is coming through the entire office or facility at any given time can vary and is uncontrolled, whereas a computer is definite.
Right now, Chimera Integrations can have a complete solution installed and working in approximately two weeks. If you think you are too far into this pandemic for installation to be effective, you are wrong. You can stop further spread for the remainder of this pandemic. Being a part of the solution and being prepared for future episodes.
Within the last two weeks of March, New York alone saw 66,497 new cases of Coronavirus. If you install a thermal camera set-up, reducing exposure by even a limited estimate of one-to-one ratio. You save exposing over 66 thousand more individuals in two weeks, within the next month, that could be over 264,000 in NY alone.