Adapting our thermal cameras to detect people with a fever

Two weeks ago one of our engineers asked if we could use our technology to help with the COVID-19 outbreak. A little brainstorming ensured.

One idea was to use our bird monitoring and recognition infrastructure to automatically recognise coughs associated with the disease. Rather than call it a Cacophonometer they wanted to call it a Coughcoughometer (another reason why you don't let engineers name things). 

Another idea was to use our thermal cameras to detect people with a fever - that could be used in airports, for example. We decided it would be fairly simple. I personally dismissed the idea, initially because there are already commercial devices out there that do that. However these devices are expensive and in hot demand at the moment. We also got external people asking us about this.

The weekend before last the engineer in question built a prototype that looked really impressive. We started showing it to people and started getting momentum.

The team of engineers at the Cacophony Project put their predator control work to one side and started working on this project. The team was perfectly suited to work on this. We've had over 3 years of experience working with thermal cameras and we've developed an infrastructure to process and manage thermal videos. This includes the ability to update the cameras and manage them remotely. We even managed to log into cameras that were in the Auckland Islands that weren't configured properly and get them working. We also have experience manufacturing the cameras, including managing the supply chain for the various components and alternatives.

The New Zealand government's innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation has come on board, testing the cameras at various locations, including a sauna, a police station, with the NZ army and others. They are also helping establish best practices for how the camera should be used and writing manuals.

A camera like this has the potential to make workplaces safer for customers and staff by automatically detecting people with a fever and preventing them from infecting others. Hopefully this will reassure both staff and customers and save some lives.

Here at 2040 we are ramping up production of these cameras, working with suppliers and manufacturing partners. The main unknown we have what the demand will be for these cameras. Please let us know if you are interested or would like to buy them.

See here for more information about the thermal camera detecting for elevated body temperature.

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