Detecting a person with a high temperature who could be carrying Covid-19 isn’t as easy as it may seem, especially in a crowd. Yet that’s what public health authorities want to do in countries around the world. A quick and reliable solution may well come from Scotland, where Thales is testing a system combining thermal imagers with artificial intelligence and producing some very promising results.
Thales is conducting a feasibility study with the NHS Scotland (National Health Service) for a new system to detect individuals with high temperatures, whether they’re on their own or in the middle of a crowd. The trial is being conducted at the emergency department of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
The initial phase has involved studying the possibility of using a thermal imaging system coupled with AI to detect patients admitted to the emergency department with a high temperature. Thales, whose Glasgow site is right next door to the hospital, is providing the thermal imagers, the data analytics system and expertise in machine learning algorithms. These algorithms work from a basic temperature measurement to compile a complete thermal picture of the person’s face to assist with triage.
This first phase was performed over a four-week period with around 100 patients — a relatively small sample, admittedly, but big enough to show some interesting correlations and confirm the validity of the concept. The trial could now be extended to a much broader population of patients.
Fast, accurate and easy to use
If the promising initial results of this trial are confirmed, the solution could be used in other sensitive public spaces where groups of individuals need to have their temperatures taken quickly and reliably, such as border areas, airports and ferry ports. And because it’s entirely contactless and none of the data is retained, the method is reassuring for both the testers and the people being tested.
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