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Long range fever detector developed by U.S. Navy

The basis of the new device is maintaining a wider gap, so that social distancing can be maintained between the person potentially showing signs of fever and the medical facility. Social distancing is one of the stipulated measures around COVID-19 safety, albeit with the airborne transmission of viruses, like the virus causing COVID-19, not being well understood.

The new sensor comes from the U.S. navy’s research and development facility (the Naval Surface Warfare Center). The device is described as a “sensor agnostic thermal imaging system”, and it is designed to detect feverish persons up to 180 metres (or 200 yards, using old fashioned metrics) away from the source. Such technology introduces an element of safety for medical personnel when screening for the novel coronavirus. This approach could prove particularly useful where a larger number of individuals need to be screened on mass.

The device has recently been tested out, across different scenarios, at the Greene County General Hospital. A spokesperson from the hospital, Stacy Burris, is quoted as saying: “This will cause less interruption in normal operations and allow for more social distancing between staff and anyone coming into the hospital. That could mean less screening staff having to quarantine from exposure.”

The device is also portable, enabling the device to be taken within areas where people may be showing signs of the fever (at a temperature threshold of 37.8 degrees Celsius and above). The basis of the technology is proprietary software powered by a basic laptop with USB capability. This is paired with a capture card, plus a standard infrared sensor. The device rapidly scans the body temperature of people and sends a signal back to a temperature reference tool and a comparison is then made against a reference point.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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