When it comes to many illnesses, including COVID-19, an elevated temperature is often the first indicator that something is wrong. While a medical thermometer is traditionally used to confirm elevated body temperature, there are scenarios in which their use is simply not practical. When it comes to large crowds and a need for quick detection with limited physical contact, infrared cameras are the optimal tool.
Can a Thermal Camera Detect Illness or Coronavirus?
While these instruments offer significant benefits in public temperature screenings, thermal cameras are not diagnostic tools. They cannot confirm internal temperature — they measure surface temperature.
They can, however, serve as a first line of defense. In conjunction with diagnostic measures, they can quickly identify individuals with elevated skin temperatures that might be the result of an illness.
Thermal cameras measure invisible heat radiating from the surface of an object. The information from each pixel of the lens is then processed to express its corresponding temperature and assigned color. The image produced makes it possible to see a detailed and accurate visual depiction of the surface temperature of the object.
It is important to note that not all thermal cameras are appropriate for medical settings — some are best suited for industrial, agricultural, or electrical uses. Only IR cameras and devices with an FDA 510(k) clearance should be used for health screenings.
Top 5 Benefits of Infrared Temperature Screening
When used appropriately, there are numerous benefits for infrared technology to detect elevated body temperature. Understanding the technology and environmental conditions that affect reading are critical. With proper training, users can conduct safe, fast, and accurate temperature screenings.
1. Check Temperature from a Safe Social Distance
One timely advantage of infrared temperature checkers is that they can accommodate social distancing requirements. While medical thermometers require close proximity, infrared temperature screening requires no person-to-person contact. Cameras mounted on metal detectors or handheld devices can be held at a safe distance and sound an alarm when it detects an abnormal temperature. As everyone heads back to work and public life, infrared technology can make that transition safe and secure.
2. Keep the Masses Moving
In the wake of COVID-19, travel bans left large crowds of people waiting in airports to complete health screenings. As lines grew longer and delays began, the risk of infection and cross-contamination grew. The U.S. does not currently utilize infrared technology for health and temperature screening measures in airports. However, the ability to detect elevated skin temperatures has proven to keep things moving for the cruise industry, airports, businesses, and schools around the globe. Readings are completed in a matter of seconds, quickly identifying those who might need further screening.
3. Get Accurate Results
When used properly, infrared cameras detect temperature with a high level of accuracy. This means factoring in the camera’s specifications for distance in measuring, inputting conditions into the camera itself, and considering the emissivity of the object. ICI has devices with .1 to .2 ℃ accuracy, as well as some fixed and handheld systems coming accurate to .3 ℃, .5 ℃ and .8 ℃ accuracy. Our Infrared Training Institute also makes training available, to help ensure that users understand these devices and learn how to use them properly.
4. Provide a Passive Precaution
Another benefit of using infrared cameras for temperature screening is that it is “passive,” meaning the instruments do not emit radiation. Infrared cameras are non-invasive in that they measure only temperature radiating from the surface of the body, at the skin. This makes for a low stress and safe encounter for those being screened.
5. Promote a Sense of Safety
Though infrared cameras do have limitations, they provide a level of comfort for at-risk populations, employees, and travelers. Precautions implemented in public places serve as a comfort to those who are well, as well as a deterrent for those who are ill. Seeing these measures in place may prevent those feeling ill from traveling, and opt to stay home instead.
The Best Thermal Cameras to Check for Elevated Skin Temperature
ICI sells a number of infrared temperature measurement devices and one software program approved by the FDA for adjunctive medical use. The most accurate cameras for thermal imaging body temperature are the FM 640 and FMX 640, always coupled with a blackbody reference device. These cameras can scan large groups of people and raise an alarm at an elevated temperature using an AI algorithm. Using the blackbody MD alongside provides enhanced accuracy. FDA-cleared IR Flash Software is also utilized to provide visualization and data reporting of the total number of individuals scanned and maintain a record of all alarm events.
As stay-at-home orders lift and the public gets back to work, school, and travel, implementing infrared temperature screening will prove advantageous as a quick, safe, and accurate precaution. Detecting surface body temperature via infrared cameras can be customized to fit your company’s needs. For more information about products and training, contact ICI today.