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In pandemic times: using thermal screening cameras



In pandemic times: using thermal screening cameras

Thermal screening and temperature monitoring cameras are devices that translate thermal energy into visible light so that we can analyse an object or scene. The image generated is usually known as a thermogram, and this image is analysed using a process named thermography. Thermal screening cameras are highly sophisticated devices that can process the captured image and then display it on a screen. Such images can be utilised for immediate diagnosis or can also be processed through software for further assessment. Thermal screening cameras can take temperature measurements to the next level; instead of simply getting a number for the temperature, you can see a picture that shows the temperature differences of a scene or surface.


What can thermal screening cameras actually see?

What we can see around us in our everyday lives is visible light. The light is the only part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can actually see. Visible light only takes up a very small area in the electromagnetic spectrum. If we need to see what is happening in other parts of the spectrum we will require specialised equipment. Objects absorb and reflect energy at different levels. Different objects and materials will radiate heat at different rates. This is precisely the energy that we can detect by infrared equipment and later on displayed as images.


What are the uses and applications of thermal imaging cameras?

They were originally developed for military usage, but thermal screening cameras have migrated into other different fields and have actually found several other uses, especially relevant nowadays, in pandemic times. But aside from being able to identify individuals with a high body temperature due to COVID-19, there are many other uses: firefighters utilise them to be able to see through smoke, find people as well as hotspots of fires. Law enforcement, at times, uses this technology to aid them with surveillance activities, locate suspects, investigate potential crime scenes, and also to conduct search and rescue operations. Power line maintenance technicians can use these cameras to locate overheating parts in order to eliminate potential risks and failures. Physiological activities, like fever, in human beings, can also be monitored using thermographic imaging, which is particularly relevant in current times.


Thermal cameras in pandemic times are used to measure body temperature

Thermal screening cameras can analyze our body temperature with high precision and can, therefore, detect cases of fever caused by COVID-19 instantly. These body temperature monitoring solutions are being installed everywhere in crowded places (from supermarkets and hotels to offices and public transports) as a measure of containment of coronavirus. These thermal imaging cameras have an advanced and very powerful algorithm for high accuracy temperature measurement. They incorporate A.I. (artificial intelligence) based on face detection. This can help filter out false alarms produced by other heat emitters like for instance cigarettes, light bulbs, coffee, and other objects.

With infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19 increasing worldwide and the different ways for fever detection apparently being installed everywhere, this is an option we need to take into account. Thermal screening for body temperature is one of the most efficient methods for non-intrusive, non-contact measurement. Skin and body temperatures can be elevated for many different reasons, for instance, being in a hot environment, sweating, or even due to makeup sometimes.


Advice and guidelines on how to use thermal imaging cameras

Businesses, institutions, or individuals interested in acquiring such cameras need to be aware that there are several types of thermal imaging cameras for a variety of applications. For instance, some thermal screening cameras are meant to be installed outdoors in order to detect trespassing in a restricted area, while some other thermal imaging cameras are utilised for non-invasive testing of architectural building structures. However, with the arrival of the new coronavirus this year, the current demand for thermal screening cameras is exclusively focused on thermal imaging cameras that are able to detect elevated body temperatures.

Before implementing and using this technology, interested customers should be clear on the kind of application. There are several types of thermal screening cameras that are able to detect higher-than-normal body temperatures, and there is an important difference in their price ranges. The differentiators may include the speed of detection, accuracy, and other additional features, like crowd detection.

It needs to be taken into account that thermal imaging cameras are designed to provide an indication of elevated body temperature, but are never a method of medical diagnosis.

In order to check body temperature at an access point, businesses will only require a product that is able to detect the body temperature of a person standing steadily in front of the access point.

But it is not always that simple when it comes to wider or larger access points. In order to monitor individuals’ temperature at a building lobby, businesses or institutions will require a thermal camera with crowd detection capabilities as well as faster detection speed for a moving crowd. In this case, it will be necessary to use the alarm function to alert on-site staff members to take necessary actions whenever a higher-than-normal temperature is actually detected.

In pandemic times: using thermal screening cameras

There are new products that combine body temperature detection as well as facial recognition. Aside from being able to check body temperature, these cameras can check the credential of the individual and also if they are wearing a mask when required. The popularity of such devices is rising in countries like the United Kingdom.


Common problems of thermal imaging cameras when measuring body temperatures

It is important to take into consideration the environment where the thermal screening camera is installed because these cameras are very sensitive to ambient conditions. For instance, imagine a situation where a thermal imaging camera is pointing at a building entrance or lobby where there is direct sunlight coming in from the outside. In this case, the sensitivity of temperature detection is obviously reduced.

Another problem businesses and institutions need to consider is existing regulations when it comes to local privacy. In a few countries, there are much tighter privacy laws, so measurement of workers’ temperature and the implementation of facial recognition may be prohibited.

We recommend to businesses and institutions that are considering the installation of such cameras that they provide clear communications to their workers on why these solutions are being deployed, how they are instituted, and allow workers to give their feedback in case they have any concerns.

In conclusion, as society adapts to new times and realities during the current pandemic and public health crisis, ground-breaking technological strategies to tackle the issue of workspace and public safety will become more and more important. Temperature monitoring solutions to detect body temperatures have risen in notoriety since the outbreak of coronavirus.

Mary is a London-based copywriter. Her passions are the online world and music, and in her free time she enjoys reading her favourite books as well as playing chess and travelling.