The current coronavirus infecting thousands of people in China (COVID-19) is making public health authorities around the world responsible for screening millions of people going through airports, returning from cruises, and crossing borders by land.
The number one tool is the thermometer and checking is usually done by placing it against the forehead of every individual undergoing screening. This is slow, tends to cause people to bunch together, and puts staff in close proximity to the people whose temperature they’re measuring, all contributing to increased chances of transmission of the virus.
Just in time, Singapore’s Integrated Health Information Systems (IHIS) and a company called KroniKare has developed and is now testing a new fever screening system that uses thermal and laser cameras, coupled with a smartphone, to measure people’s temperature at a distance. The technology can help to speed travelers through transit hubs, hospital entrances, and other places, while alleviating the need for large numbers of screeners to manually measure everyone’s temperature.
Dubbed as iThermo, the device accepts a smartphone within a built-in cradle and the combo can be placed on a tripod near a door or anywhere else there are people passing by that have to be screened. Using artificial intelligence, the technology is even capable of measuring the temperature of people that are wearing hats, glasses, face masks, and other head-wear. It does this by recognizing the forehead of those passing in front of the cameras and compensates accordingly, including for the ambient temperature.
The system has been undergoing testing at two hospitals in Singapore and it is hoped that if the virus continues to spread, there will be many iThermo units ready soon to be able to separate the sick from the healthy.
“St. Andrew’s Community Hospital (SACH) is privileged to partner IHIS to be a pilot site for iThermo,” said Ms Tan Lay Kheng, Director of Operations and Allied Health, St. Andrew’s Community Hospital, Singapore, in a press release. “We are piloting this new AI-powered temperature scanning solution to see if it can be a viable and cost-efficient solution for the screening of temperature of community hospital visitors. iThermo has the potential to cut down on the time taken to check each visitor’s temperature compared to the manual method. Our visitors would certainly benefit from a more efficient screening and registration process here.”