Coronavirus: New AI-driven temperature screening device to save time and manpower

A demonstration of the device at the Integrated Health Information Systems headquarters in Serangoon North on Feb 12, 2020.
A demonstration of the device at the Integrated Health Information Systems headquarters in Serangoon North on Feb 12, 2020.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - A new temperature screening equipment that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to spot febrile individuals is currently being piloted, reducing the need for a manual process.

The real-time screening device - which simply uses a smartphone fitted with thermal and 3D laser cameras - detects the forehead temperature of individuals walking by, even if they are wearing spectacles, surgical masks or headgear.

It could address the current situation where there are long queues in some places due to the time taken for temperature screening using the manual process, which can be time-consuming and manpower-intensive.

This comes as the outbreak response level in Singapore was raised to code orange last Friday (Feb 7).

Under the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition, or Dorscon, code orange indicates a moderate to high public health impact, requiring organisers to cancel or defer non-essential large-scale events and conduct temperature screening for group events.

The Singapore innovation, known as iThermo, was developed by the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), a technology agency for public healthcare, and local medtech start-up KroniKare.

It is currently being piloted at the IHiS headquarters in Serangoon North and St Andrews Community Hospital in Simei.

The device, which can measure temperature up to a distance of 3m away, will generate an alert when someone with a fever walks by it, prompting staff to carry out secondary checks.

Speaking to reporters at the IHiS headquarters on Wednesday, Mr Bruce Liang, chief executive of the IHiS, said healthcare institutions and businesses find it challenging to perform large scale temperature screening at speed.

He added that the application would minimise long queues and allow staff to be deployed to other pressing needs.

"The whole idea is to detect those who may be febrile in a crowd... instead of manually scanning everyone for their temperature," explained Mr Liang.


He added that this device can be easily deployed at places where large groups are being funneled through a few entry points.

It is available for subscription at $1,000 per month.

In the past weeks, long queues have been reported at some office buildings that have started temperature screening of workers and visitors as part of heightened measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

The new device analyses the images from the smartphone camera, which captures facial features, and maps the images to those from the thermal and 3D cameras, which measure temperature and distance respectively.

It feeds real-time updates, such as the rate of traffic and how many febrile individuals were detected, to a dashboard, which enables remote monitoring of the status at various sites.

The device was developed in two weeks, adapting from a KroniKare wound scanner which provides wound assessments in under 30 seconds and is already in use in medical facilities.

KroniKare co-founder and chief technology officer Hossein Nejati said the new device is currently undergoing trials for different scenarios, including handling long queues at peak hours.

His company has ramped up the production of the device, with 50 units to be made available for deployment from mid-February and another 50 by the end of the month.