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May 11, 2020
by Katie Sawicki

Is IoT the Future of Fever Detection?

In our current pandemic, tiny, touchless thermal cameras can save lives. Imagine them everywhere: airports, factories, even apartment buildings. An elevated body temperature could be the first step of self-screening, helping prevent the spread of disease.

This impressively small USB-based thermal camera was one of the first projects GroupGets launched on their group buying platform.

FLIR camera's size comparison to pencil's eraser

It’s been their best seller for years, spawning custom accessories and transforming GroupGets into a global leader in compact thermal imaging technology and distribution. Every pixel in the image has an individual temperature value, and the measurement is non-contact, allowing body temperature measurements to take place from a safe and comfortable distance. The FLIR Lepton is smaller and cheaper than most thermal cameras. It also reads the temperature through a process called “radiometry,” which increases its accuracy and precision.

Impressive Applications

Device developers are using these plug-and-play webcams for R&D, as well as embedding them into end products. Since the device is small and its firmware is open source, the camera can be quickly and easily tailored to the needs of each custom application.

One GroupGets’ customer, an international OEM, recently signed a contract to install a public health screening system in hundreds of airports. By embedding this camera into their facial recognition system, the software automatically detects a traveler’s face and determines whether they have an elevated body temperature at security checkpoints.

Many companies are soon to install a similar system in their factories. Before workers may enter, they’re screened for temperature.

While someone could have an elevated body temperature for many reasons (and the FLIR Lepton is not a medical device), pinpointing changes in temperature can provide key clues into someone’s physiology. For example, Cryo Innovations is using FLIR’s thermal cameras to pinpoint precise changes in athlete body temperatures while using cryogenic chambers. These measurements will help with the precision of cryogenic science, which has been shown to help athletes accelerate their recovery time and improve peak performance.

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, China purchased most of the global supply of thermal cameras. Thermal cameras aren’t silver bullets, but they certainly can help.

Pictures of the FLIR temperature cameras

Touchless Temperature: The Way of the Future

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many technological shifts. We were already moving toward touchless interfaces, and COVID-19 has only accelerated this change.

When combined with AI and big data, these temperature interfaces can improve public health. Average body temperature is now 97.5ºF (not 98.6ºF). Scientists are curious what’s caused this decline. Opening up public body temperature information (with the appropriate level of privacy and IoT security precautions) could teach us about our societal and species-level trends.

Use of these cameras is also expanding from measuring elevated body temperatures to general touchless applications. Temperature and shape can be distilled into gestures, allowing users to control devices through remote movement. From face recognition to indicative pointing, we’re entering an increasingly touchless world.

If COVID-19 has prompted one impressive acceleration, it’s the ingenuity of individual inventors. Open source ventilator templates and DIY masks abound. In response to this pandemic, all technology that can be touchless, will be. GroupGets’ FLIR thermal cameras are opening the door to new possibilities.

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