New device to spot those with fever under trial

The real-time screening device, which 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.
The real-time screening device, which 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.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

AI innovation may reduce need for manual temperature screening and help save time amid coronavirus outbreak

A new temperature screening device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to spot febrile individuals is currently being piloted to reduce the need for a manual process.

The real-time screening device, which simply uses a smartphone fitted with thermal and three-dimensional (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 because of the time taken for temperature screening using the manual process, which is also manpower-intensive.

This comes as the coronavirus outbreak response level in Singapore was raised to code orange last Friday. Under the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition, 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 Andrew's Community Hospital in Simei.

The device, which can measure temperature up to 3m away, will generate an alert when someone with a fever walks by it.

Speaking to reporters at the IHiS headquarters yesterday, chief executive Bruce Liang said healthcare institutions and businesses find it challenging to perform large-scale temperature screening quickly.

He added that the new device would minimise long queues and allow staff to attend 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."

He said the device can be deployed easily in places where large groups are being funnelled through a few entry points.

In the past few days, 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.

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

KroniKare has ramped up the production of the device, with 100 units to be made available for deployment by the end of the month.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2020, with the headline 'New device to spot those with fever under trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe