Introduction: Most Public and Private Establishments Have No Choice But to Reopen Now
The pandemic is not going away anytime soon. Yet, most organizations cannot run scattered and remote teams forever. Hence, leaders are having to make the hard decision of reopening offices and workplaces.
Not just workplaces, public transportation routes have opened up, and malls and parks are once again teeming with people. After all, the economy and our social life cannot halt forever.
But how can the spread of the virus be controlled when thousands of people are back on streets, offices, malls, restaurants, and theatres? This is precisely the problem that we at Pixuate had foreseen almost a year back when the crisis first emerged.
We had immediately gone into a deep R&D mode to address the problem at hand and received intensive support from many front runner institutions along the way. In this blog, we share with you how we are helping organisations to implement COVID19-safety protocols and why the thermal scanning solutions available in the market may not be trustworthy.
Pixuate Combined the Superpowers of Thermal Scanning, AI, Face Recognition and Analytics to Combat COVID-19 Spread
Over the last year, we have built, tested, piloted, and commercially scaled up our thermal imaging and analytics product – ThermoScanAI – with a host of Government and private agencies with overwhelming success.
We have helped such organisations in the following ways:
- Accurate (within a range of 0.2oC), touch-less, and zero-queue screening for elevated body temperature detection in crowded places.
- Face mask detection and social distance checking along with real-time notifications in case of violations, and identifying violators from a database (if applicable).
- Contactless biometric attendance marking and analytics on employee punch-in/punch-out timings using high-end face recognition.
Today, the market is awash with brands that claim to use thermal imaging and AI to detect elevated body temperature in a real-time and touchless manner. In fact, the global thermal scanner market size is expected to grow by USD 1.85 billion, as per Technavio. But are all these brands really detecting elevated body temperatures as they claim to do? Let’s explore.
Thermal Scanning Solutions Don’t Always Deliver What They Promise - Here’s Why
Various reports and studies have come to light that cast a shadow of doubt on whether thermal scanning and imaging products available in the global market are reliable and accurate. This is attributed to three main malpractices/shortcomings:
1. Inability to detect accurate temperature from the right area.
Most products currently being offered in the market are not trained to detect human body temperature accurately from the right spot – i.e. the eye region or the forehead. For example, depending on how the person is facing with respect to the camera, the reading may reflect the temperature of a person’s side-head, where the temperature is usually lower. Furthermore, many products give false alarms for metal items that heat up quickly – like briefcases exposed to sunlight or mobile phones and laptops that people usually carry with them.
Another classic example is that of an airport where people are always on the move. As this article by IPVM (an authority on information related to video surveillance) explains, “In airports, for example, subjects entering from outside will be skewed by hot, sunny days or very cold temperatures, or those running to catch a flight may be flushed, raising surface skin temperature.”
2. Normalization of body temperatures to reduce the range.
It is now a well known fact that many thermal scanning brands are tampering with the readings in order to create a compensating pattern that reduces the possibility of too many highs or lows in the temperature reading. This means that lower temperatures are automatically normalized upwards and higher temperatures are automatically normalized downwards for both to be closer to the average.
Such a systemic manipulation is extremely dangerous since even one false negative would be enough to cause the virus to spread quickly in a crowd, community, or workplace. You can learn more about such fraudulent practices in this video on an IPVM study published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics showing systematic temperature screening manipulation.
Pixuate is committed to creating a safe environment for people to return to offices and step outside of their homes to go to other public places. Hence, misreporting, normalization, and compensatory changes in readings are strictly against our work ethic. We pride ourselves in reporting accurate and reliable body temperature readings and send instant notifications in case elevated temperatures are detected.
3. Usage of sub-par cameras that fail to report temperatures accurately.
In many solutions, IR Cameras are currently being used instead of thermal cameras. IR Cameras are not sensitive to human temperature range. Even when thermal cameras are used, their sensitivity to small changes in temperature to the tune of +/- 0.2 Centigrade is questionable. Furthermore, camera distances are not optimized for the resolution to be effective in reporting temperatures correctly.
Pixuate’s solution uses Mobotix M16 thermal camera which is of German make and is highly accurate in reading human body temperatures. Our installation process ensures that camera positions and facing angles are optimized to cover the crowd equitably. Thermal cameras use uncooled barometer sensors which provides the highest accuracy in reading the temperature.
Results generated by thermal cameras vary according to the outside temperatures and weather conditions. To solve this problem, we bring consistency in detection and readings with the Black Body feature that helps to hold the reference temperature at a stipulated level. This means that our clients can deploy thermal cameras even without air conditioning and still get highly accurate temperature readings. Where the environmental conditions affect the temperature, variation happens in the range of 4-6 degrees through the day.
Pixuate’s solution can also integrate with already installed Thermal Cameras to improve temperature reading accuracy and audit logs can be stored for reporting.
We have received tremendous validation and support from Startup Karnataka and Technology Development Board (TDB), the nodal agency of Government of India, for our thermal analytics solution. We also implemented it in Church Street – a busy shopping hub in Bengaluru – under the Clean Air Street (CAS) initiative by the Directorate of Urban Land and Transport (DULT), Government of Karnataka last year, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
Since the inauguration, we have screened over 100,000 pedestrians and identified around 550 violations of COVID-19 norms like pedestrians not wearing masks or not maintaining social distance at all times. With thermal imaging and analytics innovation, we have successfully demonstrated our ability to help authorities implement the new normal for the pandemic in crowded places for containing the virus spread.
Want to make your workplace safe with 24×7 temperature screening, face mask detection, social distancing checks, and contactless attendance? Get in touch with Pixuate today! Visit our website or write to us at [email protected].