It is no doubt that COVID-19 has been a wake-up call to many. As soon as the announcements were made about the spread of the virus, businesses were shut down and public places were closed without a set date as to when they would reopen. Toilet paper has even become a rare commodity. Overall, the world has changed – we have all engrained in our minds what we must do in order to protect ourselves and others. In reality, this mindset is not just temporary, but is something we will carry with us into the future in order to mitigate the risk of another outbreak.
With these changes also come changes in technology and a new wave of research. Researchers are constantly discovering new and pre-existing technology solutions that may better prepare our society for the next outbreak.
How is technology coming into play?
Fever is a signature symptom of COVID-19 as well as many other viruses. Many businesses, religious groups, airports, schools and medical facilities are now recognizing the importance of temperature checkpoints as a key tool to prevent people with a disease from spreading it. As more parts of the U.S. lift quarantine restrictions while trying to suppress the disease, temperature checks are becoming a daily ritual for workers, diners, worshippers, and more.
Thermal imaging has evolved past just seeing in the dark. The uses of this technology vary and can be used to detect the risk of fires, elevated body temperature, and even enable first line defense in complete darkness. Companies like MOBOTIX, FLIR and Hikvision have developed products like Thermal Imaging cameras to tackle these safety concerns. In the current era of COVID-19, these cameras have been especially useful in attempting to mitigate the spread of the virus.
What is thermal imaging?
Thermal imaging is non-contact technology that makes the thermal radiation of an object or body, which would normally be invisible to the human eye, visible. Unlike optical image sensors, a thermal camera can detect extremely small temperature differences and visually display them with colors. The measured values can be used to trigger an event, like an alarm or pop-up message, when a predetermined value is exceeded or below the expected value. For example, if guests entering an airport exceed a temperature of 100.2° F, they can be notified and take proper precautionary measures to ensure the safety of other flyers.
No, Thermal Imaging cameras are not the cure for COVID-19 and future diseases; but, paired with frequent handwashing, hand sanitizer stations, maintaining a distance from others, and proper cleaning we are all taking a giant leap in the right direction towards mitigating the risk of future viruses. There are options available for thermal cameras that have such precise temperature measurements that they are even FDA approved! Let us take what we have learned from this outbreak and apply it to the future. We can stay one step ahead of the next outbreak by utilizing the technology available to us and taking every opportunity possible to keep our guests, workers, and loved ones safe.