Thermal Temperature Scanning

Reuters 4-23-20 Edited

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The latest buzz in Security camera technology is the ability to detect an elevated body temperature using a non-contact camera system. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak this technology was of little interest in the U.S. The idea of using facial detection to capture a face and then scan it for fever didn't attract many customers. However, this outbreak has us all searching for solutions that can assist in mitigating the spread of the virus. Fever or an elevated body temperature is one characteristic of deveral that may indicate a condition that requires closer attention. 

Temperature scanning does not prevent nor does it diagnose illness. These systems are generally not used for medical testing. As such the FDA is being forced to re-think the certification of these devices and their use in the public sector. Prior to the pandemic, the FDA required Temperature testing instruments to have an FDA 501(k) certification. A recent clarification from the FDA allows Thermal Scanning camera systems to be used in the US. The FDA has acknowledged that this will allow the certification process time to ratify these newer devices. Indicating that the technology has emerged faster than the prevailing laws to regulate it. We expect to see most manufactures with quality solutions to apply for certifications, and a few have already received a 501(k) classification.  

Is this a new technology? The application of using Thermal cameras to detect an elevated body temperature first entered the market with the SARs epidemic. Many countries deployed this technology. Since the SARs epidemic every aspect of the technology has evolved and become better.

Thermal Scanning camera systems require several technologies to work together. These technologies include pieces of hardware and software. There are some terminology that may be new to you which are required to describe the functions of these components.

1) Thermal Imaging Camera - This is a camera which can detect infrared rays as heat signatures. Thermal cameras display the results of temperature differences by using different color or grey-scale gradients. Basically comparing one pixel of information against another and displaying them in colors, which is why you see a rainbow appearance to the picture.

2) Visual Camera - This is a more traditional camera, that allows us to see a normal color or black and white image, most thermal solutions being sold will include both a thermal and visual camera in the same housing. 

3) Blackbody IR Reference - A Black Body is a device that can maintain a very accurate and stable reference temperature that the Thermal Camera uses to maintain calibration to any other subjects that may be in the focal range of the camera. By comparing the temperature of a face against the temp of the Blackbody creates a greater level of accuracy than those solutions that are offered without this component. We consider this a must-have device and not optional.

4) Facial Detection - This analytic technology uses sophisticated algorithms to determine a human face. Once the geometry of the face has been identified the analytic needs to identify the best available locations on the face to measure the skin temperature. This is done very rapidly and is continuously updated. The higher end systems can track a person as they are walking or moving through the video image. 

5) Facial Recognition - Facial recognition uses deep learning algorithms to create positive IDs of individuals. Once face detection technology identifies a human face and captures the face, the image is transformed into a vector object (also called face signature), based on image landmarks. These are the position of both eyes, nose, and the two corners of the mouth relative to each other. Facial recognition works in tandem with a database in order for faces to be identified.

6) Database - Cataloging many thousands of facial images and then being able to use deep learning to associate a relationship between captured facial images as they may be very different from day to day and various facial angles. 

7) Active Participation - This means that the system can make things happen in an autonomous and programmatic way. When events are detected, for instance as in a person is found to have a skin temp higher than 100 degrees then do something. Flash a light, sound an alarm, lock a door, close a gate etc.. 

8) Storage and Archival - This is generally referred to as an NVR or Network Video Recorder/ Server. These appliances are capable of storing, retrieving and analyzing data in real time. They are also able to play the role of the director - making sure that all the other functions are working together. In addition, they can trigger an alert or alarm if any of the other components are not working properly or out of calibration.

These components when assembled correctly, installed precisely and calibrated can do an excellent job of screening for elevated body temperatures. There are many manufacturers and re-branded OEM solutions that are flooding the market making many wild claims. In the near future, we will have very good comparative data of these systems. As this is rapidly evolving some manufactures have already broken out showing really good quality solutions. The other issue is current availability, many manufacturers are advertising products that they cannot deliver quickly for weeks or months. We have been studying and watching the various manufacturers to provide our clients with the most up to date information in helping them select the best option for their needs. Our designers can custom build installations of any size for both permanent and temporary configurations. 

This means, if you need something that can immediately be set up to get your business open now we can assist and If you want to then permanently retrofit an installation we can assist in designing a solution with you. The alternatives to automating the temperature scanning function requires additional personnel in the screening process. 

Navigating the various solutions can be a difficult task. there are many variables to consider. Let us provide the consultation to assist you. Prices for these solution range from  $2,000 to $25,000 for the hardware alone. And there is a wide variety in between. We are a custom integrator, EnterActive Networks sells complete solutions to solve difficult problems. 

Systems Require precise installations

The picture below is an example of how the screening system needs to be set up. 

  

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