Feeling the heat – how Thermal Temperature Cameras can help keep people safe

Feeling the heat – how Thermal Temperature Cameras can help keep people safe

The UK infection rates have dropped and vaccinations are progressing at pace but, even though we have a roadmap to normality, Covid has not been defeated. 


The doors swung open at non-essential retail shops, gyms and outdoor hospitality, and soon offices, factories and indoor hospitality will follow. How can we continue to stay safe?


Sadly, once we start mixing again, there is no guaranteed way to be 100% secure. But there are ways we can reduce the risks. 


One powerful ‘weapon’ against the spread of Covid are Thermal Temperature Cameras, ensuring no one in the pub or office is exhibiting one of the most common symptoms – a raised temperature.


‘Weapon’ is an apt description for a thermal temperature camera, as the technology grew out of some of the most fiercely fought wars of modern times…


Searching for the enemy


Edwin Starr famously posed the question: “War – what is it good for?”


His answer to his question was emphatic: “Absolutely nothing!”


He wasn’t entirely correct. 


When you are faced by a heavily armed enemy who wishes to kill you, it’s amazing how quickly science advances. Inventions (or significant refinements of new technologies) during World War II, for example, included radar, jet engines, antibiotics and the use of metal plates to heal fractures. Knowledge of how poison gases worked in World War I led to the development of chemotherapy.


Although Starr is, of course, correct in his view that war is not to be recommended.


In the case of thermographic cameras, the big step forward came in the Korean War. Picking up the whereabouts of enemy soldiers was hugely important during night time engagements. However, early cameras required heavy batteries and used a beam, which could also give away the camera holder’s location! The technology was refined substantially during America’s next Asian conflict in Vietnam.


The adoption of thermographic technology in these bitter conflicts progressed the knowledge and has since had enormous benefits for society at large. 


Thermal Imaging has been used extensively by firefighters, police, and rescue teams in disaster areas. The technology is used by engineers, electricians and building inspectors.


And now, this technology has become an important asset in spotting potential Covid symptoms.


How it works


Humans are hot stuff. The average body temperature for an adult ranges from 36.1 to 37.2°C – which is about 16°C higher than the average August maximum temperature in England. 


Although humans (and other mammals) are much warmer than their surroundings, the heat difference cannot be picked up by the human eye. 


The science is succinctly explained by the global vision and imaging trade group, AIA: 


“Visible light is extremely useful to humans and other creatures, but it’s only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared radiation, the kind produced by heat, takes up more ‘space’ in the spectrum.


“The level of thermal radiation emitted by an object is called ‘its heat signature’. The hotter a given object is, the more radiation it will spill into the environment. The thermal imager is capable of distinguishing heat sources and very small differences in thermal radiation. It compiles this data into a complete ‘heat map’ distinguished by heat levels.”


The accuracy is incredible, especially if used with a blackbody calibration source (a target object whose temperature is precisely known). The reading is usually within ±0.3C accuracy. This means that the thermal temperature camera can easily recognise if somebody has a raised temperature. A person who has a symptom of fever or high temperature will have a reading of at least 37.8C.


Thermal temperature cameras and Covid


Many businesses are installing thermal temperature cameras at the entrance to the office or workplace to help protect their employees. But they can also be used to check on members of the public entering a venue, shopping arcade, public transport or an event.


The cameras are an ideal choice to screen groups of people: they can assess up to 30 humans in a moving crowd. It takes just one second for a thermal camera to do its work, making this technology quick and efficient.


With an embedded alarm, you’ll know immediately if or when a person with a higher than normal temperature walks by.


There are many ways in which a thermal temperature camera can be installed. These include:


  • Short, medium and long-range wall-mounted detectors
  • Handheld or fitted on a tripod
  • Integrated door access
  • Walk-through metal detector


If a camera does detect you have a raised temperature, it does not necessarily mean you have Covid. However, a high temperature is an indication that your body is fighting against some kind of infection, maybe just a cold. It’s probably better to be at home, even if it is a minor ailment. It is your body’s warning sign. 


A thermal temperature camera is not guaranteed to detect Covid. If someone is pre-symptomatic or doesn’t get any symptoms, the camera will not help. But it is another tool that will help life return to some kind of normality – and it gives confidence to other people at the location. 


Ultimately, a thermal temperature camera could save lives – and there’s nothing more important than that.


Get in touch for more details.