Keeping people safe in a pandemic is no easy task. Organizations have implemented a variety of measures, from mandating masks to installing plexiglass panels at points where people interact. Some are using thermal imaging to measure body temperature. While temperature-based screening does not definitively determine if someone has COVID-19, it’s one more tool organizations can use to help stem the spread of the disease.

Thermal imaging systems use infrared technology to measure surface skin temperature. They provide a reading faster than forehead and oral thermometers and do not require close proximity with the person being screened. The FDA has issued guidance encouraging the use of thermal imaging in “high throughput” areas such as businesses, airports, factories, schools and sports arenas, and in healthcare facilities where thermometers are in short supply.

How Thermal Imaging Works

Thermal cameras detect the infrared energy radiated by an object and translate that information into a visual image. Hotter areas are shown as colors in the red end of the visible light spectrum, and cooler areas as colors in the blue end. Some thermal cameras also show shades of grey. The infrared data collected by the camera can be used to determine the temperature of the object.

When used for fever screening, thermal cameras are not effective at assessing multiple people at once. Instead, organizations must carefully set up screening stations where an individual’s temperature can be measured. Some systems require the use of a calibrated “black body” to ensure that the camera’s measurements are accurate.

The screening station should be in an area where the temperature and humidity are controlled, away from drafts, direct sunlight and radiant heat. Strong lighting and reflective backgrounds should be avoided.

Choosing the Right Solution

Thermal imaging systems that aren’t used for medical diagnosis or treatment are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To the extent that thermal imaging systems are used for COVID-19 triage screening, the FDA has suspended some regulatory requirements during the health emergency. This can make it difficult to choose the right solution.

Technologent has evaluated many of the thermal imaging systems being offered in the marketplace, and selected the best solutions to address today’s pandemic-related requirements. Additionally, we have chosen solutions that may be repurposed for other uses in the future.

Our temperature-sensing solutions offer these features:
  • Multifunctional. Most of our solutions have multiple functions that can detect certain symptoms of COVID-19 and report hazardous behaviors that may contribute to its spread.
  • Privacy protected. No personal information is collected, and human faces can be blurred to further protect privacy. In some cases, no Internet connection is needed, minimizing the risk of hackers accessing the system.
  • Easy to set up. The devices can be installed on walls or tripods, or on mobile carts for ease of movement.
  • Easy to use. We have selected devices that operate autonomously, further reducing physical contact. Alerts can be issued via multiple channels, and trackable alert logs allow for easy analysis of the data.
  • Enterprise-ready. The systems can be deployed in an enterprise network environment and the data easily integrated with other systems.

Thermal imaging systems can be used to detect elevated body temperatures in real time to identify high-risk individuals and provide actionable insights related to infection control. Technologent offers a number of thermal imagining solutions that help enable businesses, hospitals, schools and other facilities to stay open while keeping employees, customers, patients and students safe.