Considering a Thermal Scanning System? Five Things to Know about Temperature-based Fever Checks
In today’s COVID era, many organizations are adopting temperature screening as a method of triaging individuals who might have a fever, to facilitate their return to business-as-usual operations. With wave upon wave of new thermal-checking devices entering the market, it can be very hard to distinguish between truly necessary capabilities and optional ones, and between reality and marketing spin. Do you even need a temperature check system? Here are Tascent’s top-five takeaways to demystify the space.
1. Identify if temperature checks are right for your organization. A raised temperature isn’t a certain indication of a fever, and conversely a normal temperature doesn’t mean that a person is guaranteed to be healthy. However, it is broadly acknowledged that automated temperature screening can be used to rapidly triage subjects for COVID, and there are many cases in which temperature checks are necessary or desirable. Perhaps they are mandated by the CDC; perhaps they are required from a business-risk perspective; perhaps they are critical to reassure customers. In this case, efficient, accurate, intuitive thermal acquisition systems are needed – which Tascent can deliver.
2. Determine if you need to check body temperature, or skin temperature. They are not the same thing. Skin temperature is easier and cheaper to read than body temperature, requiring only low-resolution thermal sensors, but it is much more variable and readily affected by environmental factors (and even by walking). For an accurate assessment of whether a person is exhibiting an elevated temperature or not, you need to measure a person’s body temperature (technically known as External Body Temperature, or EBT), which in turn requires a relatively high-resolution thermal image of the face. There is a clear cost-difference between the two types of system. In general, the $3000 cameras that you see processing groups of people walking past are only estimating skin temperature, which whilst making for impressive marketing content, is insufficient for fever-detection.
3. Think about today’s processes, and allow flexibility for tomorrow. Reputable vendors of thermal checking technologies are clear: automated temperature screening can be used to rapidly triage subjects, but it does not deliver a medical diagnosis. Those presenting with high temperatures should typically be confirmed with secondary evaluation methods (eg a clinical-grade contact thermometer) – and this secondary process needs to be designed-in, rather than an afterthought. Furthermore, the details of the secondary and follow-on processes depend on the specific scenario, and will likely change over time. If you present with a fever, in today’s environment of heightened concern, you might not be permitted to travel, attend a concert, or enter a premises. However, the measures applied to people exhibiting febrile symptoms are likely to change frequently over the coming months. Thus, selecting a flexible solution (and a flexible provider) is key.
4. Know the relevant standards and determine which must be complied with. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) publication on human febrile temperature screening details the technical specifics required of thermal capture equipment. In the US, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is also a key player, since FDA clearance is normally required for devices used for medical diagnosis in the US. Given the COVID-19 public health emergency, the FDA is currently “not objecting” to non-compliant camera systems, although it is unclear for how long this waiver will stand. The takeaway is this: for applications where high and repeatable accuracy is essential and ongoing operation is anticipated, compliance with ISO and FDA standards is vital. In other cases, it may not be critical.
5. Seize the opportunity to turn the cost of temperature checks into a benefit. No-one is excited about adding a touchpoint to check people’s temperatures, with the accompanying cost, time, and hassle. However, adding a “know your customer” moment through biometric identification presents a new opportunity to transform the experience. Want to streamline existing processes and merge them with the thermal check, enrol identities for contact-tracing purposes, or simply personalise the moment for your customers? Tascent can make this happen by reshaping the basic temperature check, through the implementation of biometric workflows, into an experience that drives both efficiency and customer service improvements – and turn a cost into a benefit.
At Tascent, we are partnering with leading thermal camera suppliers to augment our best-of-breed InSight Face camera with External Body Temperature sensing capabilities. We are also working closely with leading face recognition algorithm providers to tackle related challenges such as face-mask detection and partial-face matching, to ensure that we can provide our customers with a broad and dependable offering.
Tascent’s latest product, InSight Face EBT, uses an FDA-compliant thermal imager to provide highly-accurate, reliable temperature readings. Coupled with the InSight Face’s class-leading biometric face acquisition capabilities and Tascent Enterprise Suite’s flexible server platform, InSight Face EBT enables the automated associated of temperature data with previously-enrolled identities – and opens the door to immediate efficiency gains and a new customer experience.
If you decide that implementing thermal checks is the right direction to head, you need a partner who will listen to your requirements and make appropriate recommendations, rather than an “I have a hammer so every customer is a nail”-type vendor. At Tascent, we are transparent about the pros and cons of different technology approaches, and would welcome a conversation to discuss your organization’s needs. Reach out to us today!