Under the hybrid model of education during the pandemic, schools and universities must follow strict protocols to return to face-to-face classes. Taking the temperature of students is one of the basic measures to enter educational institutions. In this sense, interest in the installation of thermal cameras has grown to be able to measure (not exactly) the temperature of students in groups.
Thermal cameras, one of the technologies that began to be used in airports last year, for example, are a solution that allows accurate temperature monitoring while keeping 1,000 people in in 10 minutes (this may vary depending on the equipment). They also have facial recognition, which makes it possible to detect whether students are wearing masks.
This type of device cannot detect fever because thermal imaging is an imprecise method that cannot measure internal body temperature. But they are useful for preselection , this means that a thermal camera can determine that a person's skin temperature is unusually high. And a medical-grade thermometer or non-contact infrared device can confirm that the person actually has a fever.
Thermal cameras have a high degree of precision, a margin of error of +/- 0.5 degrees, and it is monitored remotely, being able to measure in a range of 0.3 to 1.5 meters in half a second. "They were a highly demanded product in 2020, specifically since the end of last year we detected an increase in consultations by educational institutions to ensure a safe return to face-to-face classes for students, teachers and auxiliary personnel," says Juan Pablo Coletti from Dahua Technology .
Although the majority of inquiries are focused on expediting the entry of students , thermal cameras are used to monitor traffic within institutions, including recesses.
There are different models on the market of this type of cameras, portable and fixed. Portable devices can operate at a certain distance (varies by manufacturer and model) and fixed cameras can pre-select people, in less than a second. Processing speed is also an important factor. If it takes ten seconds to scan someone in a high volume area, that could create a bottleneck, then a risk situation exists.
Some cameras require a person to stop briefly, while others can see an individual in motion as long as the person is looking at the camera. With the latter, artificial intelligence software would highlight people with high temperatures and alert operators.
In 2003, when the SARS epidemic broke out, Singapore airport was the first in the world to be equipped with thermal cameras to track people with fever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is important to know that thermal cameras do not detect coronavirus. They only measure temperature, and a high temperature or fever is just a common symptom of the virus. There are others such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell. But not all people with the virus have a high fever and not all people with a high fever are infected with coronavirus.
Therefore, thermal imaging cameras alone will not detect infected people with other symptoms or without any symptoms, known as false negatives. They will also identify people who are ill with a fever for another reason, known as false positives.
Gabriela Piovano, an infectologist at the Muñiz hospital tells Infobae about these cameras: “The technology is not bad, since if a person has a fever, it is possible that they do not attend school, not only because of the coronavirus, but because of another process . If it is a respiratory condition it is contagious, we have also been avoiding the overflow of part of those other pathologies that we saw frequently, as a result of face-to-face classes. "
Adds:" The fact that many people are asymptomatic, and transmit the virus is precisely what prompts us to say that they do not have to start face-to-face classes because otherwise , all the time, all you are doing is going against the people who are infected, but when people show symptoms, a few days in which the infection is transmitting. ”