Busting the “Fever Detection” myth: an explanation into why fever detection cameras are not a thing. (4-minute read)
Phrases like “social distancing” and “non-essential travel” have become commonplace in recent weeks; being used on a more-than-daily basis throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. There are many other phrases that are rising in popularity but, unfortunately, are being sensationalised regarding COVID-19 and used in a misleading manner; “Fever Detection Cameras” being a prime example.
There is no such thing as a fever detection camera. There are thermal cameras, also known as thermographic cameras, or temperature screening cameras, and devices that adopt thermography to determine a target’s temperature. But, a “fever detection camera” they are not.
How do thermal cameras work?
Infrared radiation is omitted by all objects but is invisible to the naked eye – you may feel it as heat if the intensity is high enough. Thermal or Thermographic Cameras are CCTV (or similar) devices that are capable of detecting this heat radiation, and converting these readings into temperature values via an algorithm.
Visualisation may also be provided by applying the algorithm to a coloured spectrum, typically from blue (cold) to red (hot), or varying shades of the same colour (e.g. greyscale).
More specifically, cameras equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) can detect faces to accurately screen the skin surface temperature of individuals within range.
These cameras can be highly efficient, taking only a second to detect the person’s temperature from a distance and, in some cases, allow screening of large numbers of people at a time.
Visual and audio cues can alert the user to a result outside of pre-defined acceptable parameters, meaning appropriate follow up action can then be taken.
Are thermal cameras capable of fever detection?
Firstly, a fever is a symptom, not an illness, that may be identified when an adult human presents a body temperature of 38°C or higher. When an elevated body temperature is identified in an individual, this may indicate the presence of a fever.
Temperature screening through thermographic cameras is a non-invasive, non-contact method of reading the body temperature in real time. Some devices can achieve precision to within ±0.3˚C of accuracy, which is greater than the industry certified minimum standard variation of ±0.5˚C (IEC 80601-2-59:2017).
While the cameras are capable of screening individuals within range without contact, they can only provide a preliminary reading which can then be confirmed via the use of a more invasive thermometer, if required. Please note, at this point you should seek medical guidance.
To be clear, thermal cameras can quickly detect elevated body temperatures which may indicate the presence of a fever in an individual.
The role of thermal cameras in staying safe post-lockdown
These devices are proving invaluable additions to organisations identified as key sectors in the COVID-19 response; those who have continued throughout the pandemic where remote working wasn’t an option. They may even become mandatory in some instances. As more workplaces start to reopen after lockdown, businesses will be making changes and preparations to keep their premises and personnel protected.
The addition of a thermal camera inside a site will enable safe screening of staff, clients, customers and guests on entry. While the camera cannot detect a fever or diagnose an illness, it will alert you to their elevated body temperature. You can then apply your own process for dealing with these individuals, minimising contamination at your site and mitigating risks of that person coming into contact with others present.
Screenings can be viewed in real-time and recorded for playback on request. This could be useful for tracking and tracing individuals who were “normal” temperature or asymptomatic beforehand but have since fallen ill.
Thermal cameras in action
See this video for more information about our suite of thermal cameras and other access control devices that may help as you plan your route back to the workplace:
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For the latest information and advice regarding Coronavirus, please refer to www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public.