Demand for Thermal Cameras Reaching a Fever Pitch
The Thermal Imaging Industry is Heating Up
Businesses are beginning to discuss how to reopen after COVID-19. However, in order to avoid a second wave of the virus, they will need to proceed with caution. Many business leaders and health experts are thinking about how to use thermal-imaging equipment to keep customers and employees safe and healthy as the world eases back into normalcy.
Fevers are a common symptom of COVID-19. Thermal cameras would be able to detect if a person had a fever before they entered crowded locations where infections could spread. Just like metal detectors are fixtures at airports, concerts, and museums, thermal cameras could become a part of daily life.
Amazon (AMZN) is planning to install the technology in its warehouses as well as in Whole Foods stores. General Motors (GM), among other car manufacturers, are also discussing how to implement thermal scanners. These companies have not announced who will supply their thermal cameras, but Flir (FLIR) (a company that manufactures the equipment) saw stocks jump by 16% on Monday as investors anticipate a wave of demand for the company’s products.
While thermal scanners could be a crucial part of reopening the economy, some have voiced concerns. Companies are scrambling to implement thermal scanning systems, but several groups are encouraging them to do so thoughtfully to avoid creating problems down the road.
Some privacy activists see thermal cameras as invasive. Civil liberties advocates have brought up the importance of eliminating biases from the process of screening people before they enter crowded places, and worry that more screening could mean more discrimination.
Health experts have noted that some people have naturally high body temperatures for reasons unrelated to an infectious disease, and should not be stopped from entering venues because of this. On the other hand, some people who could carry infections are asymptomatic and would not have fevers, so thermal scanning technology will need to be coupled with other methods of keeping people safe.
Thermal Scanners Will Be a Hot Commodity
Before coronavirus, thermal scanner companies mainly supplied equipment to the military and the government. When the global economy kicks back into gear and people gather in large groups again, thermal cameras will likely be much more prevalent.
Athena, an Austin-based startup which created thermal imaging technology to detect guns under clothing is also at work filling skyrocketing demand for fever-detecting systems. Athena Co-Founder, Chris Ciabarra, explained the importance of this technology for a return back to normalcy, saying, “Having a system in place to tell if someone has a fever or not is going to help them go back into society and be comfortable sitting at a restaurant again, knowing that no one there has a fever.”
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