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China to Roll Out Temperature-Taking Infrared Cameras

The system automatically focuses on a passenger’s face and triggers an alarm when a temperature above 37 degrees centigrade is identified.

By claudia glover

Chinese public transport infrastructure will soon be equipped with thermal imaging cameras that can take temperatures remotely — with public authorities able to match the data with facial recognition systems, to build a comprehensive COVID-19 detection and tracking system in Wuhan.

That’s according to a press release today from Wuhan’s Guide Infrared, China’s largest provider of thermal imaging systems, which said that it will be supplying Wuhan Metro transport hubs with the technology.

Guide Infrared, founded in 1999, provides thermal imaging technology that is used across a range of industries from firefighting to law enforcement. (The South China Morning Post reports that it is a major supplier to the Chinese army, which uses its night vision technology for precision weapons.)

Infrared thermal imaging detects infrared radiation from people and converts the image of temperature distribution into a video image. In this case, the company said it can also be used to take the temperature of a resident from several metres away.

Driven by AI-activated facial detection technology, the system to be deployed automatically focuses on a passenger’s face and triggers an alarm when a temperature above 37 degrees centigrade is identified.

Public data on how accurate the system is was not available. Body temperatures rise rapidly when people run, for example; it was not immediately clear how or whether China plans to factor out false positives.

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As the lock-down in Wuhan is eased, officials are expecting more residents to use public transport, and preventative measures like thermal infrared fever screening are part of an armoury of measures being put in place to suppress a resurgence of the virus.

Guide Infrared has also donated fever warning systems to Japan. The company  delivered epidemic prevention supplies and equipment to Japan earlier this year, where they can be used at hospitals and “epidemic prevention stations” across the country.

In a press release from Guide IR, a spokesperson for the company said: “The automatic infrared thermal imaging systems with AI algorithms provide efficient and accurate non-contact temperature screening, alerting operators when a fever is detected” at the value of RMB1 million, approximately $144,000.

Guide Infrared’s CTO Wang Peng said: “For 20 years, Guide Infrared has been building a database based on mass screening samples in a host of real-life scenarios. In an effort to provide fast and accurate temperature detection, the company has performed constant optimization of algorithms as well as software and hardware upgrades”.

A subsidiary of Guide IR, Guide Sensmart, was present at the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this year, where it was advertising, amongst other things, a infrared thermal imaging camera for a smartphone.

MobIR Air can plug straight into the phone, effectively turning it into a thermal imaging camera. (Guide IR announced earlier this year that it had entered into an agreement with Polish online weapons and ammunition vendor Knieja, to distribute its products in Poland.)

Meanwhile in the UK, as part of the global research to battle COVID-19, the UK has just donated a grant of £1 million to a leading developer in rapid diagnostic technologies Mologic, to develop a point-of-need, rapid diagnostic test for the virus.

Professor Paul Davis, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Mologic, commented: “As seen with the COVID-19 outbreak, viruses can quickly transmit between populations, however, our knowledge to tackle this threat has also grown exponentially. For rapid epidemic preparedness and response, we need to develop a platform that is readily modified according to a novel pathogen, as we are demonstrating through our accelerated programmes for Ebola and COVID-19”.

See also: “Auntie, Go Inside!” China Turns to Drones to Enforce Coronavirus Quarantine


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