In the new normalcy the process of screening people entering venues will become so widespread that it will start to look like something we were used to seeing only in dystopian movies. Even if it can look intimidating or an invasion of privacy it is still a necessary step in maintaining the economy and everyday life working as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
The few times most of us had to leave our houses during the lockdown we surely came across security personnel using handheld screening devices at the entrance of retail stores, public transportation accesses, hospitals and clinics, etc. The notion here was that this was supposed to be a temporary phase, so any delays caused by the manual screening process and even the cost of having a person working all day doing this easily automated task was preferable to invest in equipment that would only be needed for a few weeks at the most.
But things did not turn out that way, and temperature screening seems to be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. So, the current notion of a security guard or receptionist manually screening will need to be reassessed, because it was a temporary solution to what appears to be a permanent necessity. Man-hours and their cost spent on these tasks are not feasible in this context, in particular taking into account that the results are slow and lack any sort of integration, other than the guard personally recognizing some of the people he or she grants access to. Therefore, this process will definitively need to be delegated to new technologies and products.
Temperature Screening Kiosks and Systems
The most efficient and cost-effective way of dealing with this new requirement for schools, fitness centers, restaurants, churches, entertainment venues and many more instances are temperature screening kiosks. These consist of a device that is set up near the entrance that can automatically grant access by unlocking a door or turnstiles if certain conditions are met by the person standing in front of it. These can be temperature below a certain trigger, whether or not the person is wearing a facemask, and even matching the face against a white list stored in the device’s database. All these can be customized. This way all the screening process is automated and sped up significantly.
Kiosks like these visually resemble a medium size tablet, like an iPad, they have front facing cameras and thermal sensors, and an LCD screen that informs the person being scanned where they need to stand, how close to it and the results of the measurements.
It is worth pointing out that kiosks can still be used in conjunction with a person or security guard, who can manually grant access if the device confirms the person being screened meets the requirements. For these cases, the live monitor feature becomes very useful; the security person will not need to look at the device itself but rather at a computer on a desk nearby receiving a live feed of the screening process.
What places are starting to use this technology:
Like we mentioned before, most indoor venues will need some sort of screening process, places with very heavy foot traffic will need to employ special cameras that can screen dozens of people at once, while others like small grocery stores or pharmacies should be able to relay in handheld, manual solutions. However, everything in between such as schools, office buildings, churches, factories, movie theaters, fitness centers, restaurants, bars and so on, just by the volume of people they receive daily and the indoor setting type, will need to incorporate a temperature screening kiosk.
What to look for in a Thermal Screening system?
The first thing should be a device designed and built for this purpose, because a lot of vendors are using repurposed face recognition systems. Those devices lack accuracy in the temperature screening side, often times with margins of error larger than one degree, making them pretty much useless. To detect these products, you should look for camera units attached on top of the frame, similar to old PC webcams; this means that the thermal camera was not designed originally to fit inside the form factor and was added later.
Additionally, you should look for versatility in the ways it can be placed and mounted; we found that this solution checks all the boxes: the thermal sensor is built in the frame and it can be purchased with a floor stand, a wall bracket or desktop stand. This will allow it to be comfortably placed in most entrances: right next to the door using the wall bracket, standing in alongside a corridor or in an open space with the floor stand, or in a desk where the security person usually sits.
It’s worth pointing out that the measurements and results provided by temperature screening kiosk should not be used as the basis to make any kind of medical diagnostic, these are not medical devices. In the cases where the screening process detects that the forehead skin temperature of a person is above a certain designated trigger value, follow up measurements should be done using clinical thermometers to confirm the result. The kiosk then works as an additional important tool to get a first screening warning that more tests are required.