No, thermal cameras cannot detect what medical experts would define as a fever in an individual. What they can do is measure the skin temperature of any individual and in line with medical diagnoses, should it be above certain temperatures then there is a high chance the individual has a fever.
By capturing the infrared radiation emitted from human skin a thermal imaging device can calculate the temperature from level of emission. It also converts the radiation into visible images that we can interpret by using small devices called microbolometers. For each pixel on the screen of the thermal imager there is a microbolometer which will change its color to represent a temperature and into an image we can see.
There is no one solution fits all in this scenario as the factors you need to take into account include;
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Arguably, many people would think about budget first, not at the last of the list. Especially since the factors before it all have an effect on the budget. We have put it at the bottom of the list because you need to first consider your own requirements and then decide if its within your budget, for example, let's say you have a budget of $20,000 and you purchased a state of the art thermal imaging system that tracks users with 4k screen, sounds an alert to staff should someone trigger the heat sensor and locks down the building. What if you only needed a system that scans 10-20 people per minute? Hand operated for 15 minutes in the morning and late afternoon and could sound alert the user just in case they missed someone? Finally, what if this system only cost a tiny fraction of $20,000. Then you would take the lower costing and more suitable option.
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For the thermal camera to give the most accurate reading, individuals should be as close as possible. However, with the intention of keeping social distance for the camera user too, there are thermal cameras that can maintain a high level of accuracy for up to 2.5 meters away.
The majority of thermal cameras are designed for industry use and will have a large temperature range from -4 °F - 1832°F (-20°C - 1000°C) and more, but they come with an accuracy of 2% or +/- 2 °C while operating in room temperature of around 86°F (30°C). There are potentially issues with using these types of thermal cameras for screening high temperature with that level of accuracy since the difference between a fever and normal temperature is very low. As a result this accuracy is not suitable for fever detection in humans.
Newer thermal cameras made just for fever detection will have much greater accuracy at around 0.3°C which leaves very little room for error. In order to achieve this level of accuracy many different methods are used. Two common methods are; reducing the temperature range from -20°C - 1000°C to 32°C-42°C which enables the device to be more accurate at a much narrower range. The other commonly used method is to use a black body as reference for skin temperature screening, however, this method has its own advantages and clear disadvantages such as the high costs and problems of integrating this black body solution.
Generally, temperatures above 100.4 F (38 C) can be considered feverish, this can vary slightly from person to person. However, if you are detected to have a body temperature of 103 F (39.4 C) or higher, you must seek medical attention immediately especially if you show other symptoms.
It's important to note that there are many normal events that can lead to a temporarily higher temperature and still not have any illness. This can be more prominent in individuals after exercise, walking in hot weather or even normal fluctuations from a woman’s monthly cycle.
Therefore, its recommended that should an individual be detected with high temperature you follow these guides;
No, thermal cameras can never be used as a device to diagnose if someone has coronavirus or any other illness. This is because the only function of a thermal imaging device is to detect temperatures and not make medical diagnosis. Having a high temperature on its own is not an absolute indication of an illness.
If you have any other questions relating to thermal camera, non contact thermometer and how they can be used to increase safety in your community please send us a message via Contact us