FLIR, the manufacturer of our thermal imaging cameras, is at pains to remind the public that thermal scanners are not medical devices.
As such, they cannot be relied upon to single-handedly detect or diagnose coronavirus (COVID-19), SARS, H1N1, or a fever.
However, they are incredibly effective at detecting small deviations in the surface temperature of objects and people. As such, they are a useful tool in screening for people that might be showing the symptoms of a viral infection, such as a fever.
Our thermal cameras are so sensitive that people often think they can see through things with them. For example, if you point one of these devices at a wall you can often ‘see’ the studs behind the wall. You are not actually seeing through the wall, but rather observing the minute differences in surface temperature where the wall has a support structure behind it, and where it does not.
Anyway, back to COVID-19 and scanning for fevers! Sorry, I mean ‘Elevated Body Temperature.’
Thermal Scanners Detect Elevated Body Temperature
The jargon that FLIR and others use in this field is Elevated Body Temperature or EBT. Because, like I already said, this is what they most certainly can detect. After all, someone with an elevated body temperature may have coronavirus, a fever, or they may have just been for a run.
Some of FLIR’s thermal scanners are even US FDA (United States Food & Drug Administration) approved for detecting elevated body temperature. This includes our higher-end FLIR Exx Series.
One of the key benefits is the audio alarm that sounds if someone passes through the detection area with an elevated temperature. This makes these cameras ideal for relatively high traffic areas such as airports, train stations, ports, and large office buildings.
FLIR Exx Series Screening Mode.
The FLIR Exx Series is also tripod-mountable which makes it ideal for set-up in thoroughfares. You can also transmit the data over wifi or a cable connection to a nearby computer with a larger display screen.
Other Thermal Scanning Options To Detect People Who May Have Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The above mentioned thermal scanners are relatively expensive. While they are the best tool for the job, there are some lower-cost thermal cameras which are also worth considering.
FLIR Ex Series – Above Alarm Mode for Fever Detection
The FLIR E5 XT, E6 XT and E8 XT cameras have an inbuilt ‘above alarm’ mode. Unlike the ‘screening mode’ described above, this is a visual alarm.