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Thermal imaging cameras, which use thermography, are a fast, contactless, and reliable method to detect a fever, a common symptom of COVID-19.
Used in places such as airports, hospitals, factories, office buildings, restaurants, and stores to provide fast individual screenings that aim to help stop the spread of the virus.
Although no thermal cameras can detect or diagnose the coronavirus, they can be used as fast screening tools for detecting elevated body temperature (EBT) at public places as an indicator for anyone who might be sick.
Unfortunately, not every thermal camera model or brand is appropriate for this application. Obtaining actionable data requires adequate thermal pixel resolution, stability, and measurement accuracy, as well as the correct preparation and scanning methodology.
Many thermal camera models/brands exist in the market. The following guidelines help to choose the right one:
A guide to Selecting thermal cameras for fever detection applications:
- Cameras with the high thermal resolution are better than those with less resolution. Enough pixels (spatial resolution) are required for a thermal camera to measure the skin’s surface temperature accurately.
- Cameras with smart sensors which can do temperature measurement and do not require a reference black body or any additional equipment. Using a black body can create challenges. Firstly, is the cost and complexity of including additional hardware. Secondly, it can be an in-accurate reference source if not placed in proper focus (it must be mounted in the same plane as the person being screened)
- Cameras which can use different lenses are preferable, that will give the operator freedom to place the camera at different distances and optimize the active area (heated region) of the target to be covered with enough pixels to yield the desired results.
- Cameras which can achieve accuracies of ±0.5°C or less. Accuracy of ±0.3°C is preferable. (It’s important to note many factors can affect the accuracy of thermal cameras, such as the ambient environment, focus, distance, the emissivity of the target)
- Cameras that can differentiate between body temperature and other objects (existing in the scene).
- Cameras which can measure the temperature of the skin in key areas (the corner of the eye and forehead) is preferable as this location provides the closest temperature correlation to human core body temperature.
- Cameras that can offer extra features such as mask detection, demographic information (age, gender, etc.), are preferable. Software applications offering these features should be compatible with the camera of choice.
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