We are now living in a global epidemic: an unforeseen crisis that we are unprepared of. The sudden emergence and global spread of Covid-19 has stricken countries from all over the world. It started as an endemic that rapidly infects people until it became a widespread viral disease. It is profoundly affecting every continent and every country in the world: anointing a new way of living called ‘the new normal’. Different responses about suppressing transmissions have been mandated: from community lockdowns to utilizing proactive policies and tools.
Health systems employ pandemic preparedness approach in rapidly detecting and responding to decelerate the spread of the virus. Once again, technology has stepped forward in realizing a novel relevance to old automation. This introduces facial recognition scanner – a combination of facial recognition and infrared technology to scan and analyze a person’s face and temperature within a few seconds.
What is Facial Thermal Scanner?
A facial recognition scanner is a tablet-like device that detects a face though a camera and requires users to pass the temperature check, full facial recognition scan, and face mask on before entry. (Unmanned Fever Alert Temperature Scanning Terminal, 2020). It serves as the facility’s first line of defense against safety and security risks as it filters anyone who wishes entry with high body temperature or suspicious intruders. This somehow, provides protection to the establishment and its staff to the possibility of an outbreak and pose as a visitor surveillance.
The scanning is quick and easy, streamlining customers entry and their social distancing. The voice prompt will give instructions and the user will only follow. First, the person shall stand at a fixed distance where the image of the face would be locked on. Second, an infrared will scan the face for a close indicator of body temperature. Next, it will identify and record the face through a deep learning algorithm. Lastly, a voice message will tell if the temperature is normal or high and put a face mask on when the person does not have any.
Why is it a boon today?
Facial recognition scanners have in no way detect a person with Covid-19. However, it can detect fever, which is an early symptom of a person infected with the virus. Although this is an initial assessment to try to identify people who are infected, temperature checks can only do so much. Practically speaking, whether it’s a Covid-19 virus or any other communicable disease, if a person is feverish and it is detected by thermal scanner, then we can possibly deter the spread of it.
What facial recognition scanner boasts about is the accuracy of its detection system and security features. Non-contact assessment device like this decreases the risk of spreading the virus, as it doesn’t require physical contact to determine the body temperature of a person. It quickly measures and displays temperature and alert notice that screens many people faster, preventing congestion on point of entries (fda.gov, 2020). Also, it keeps a record of people’s faces which is useful in contact tracing and intruder alert. Complete personnel identification is also one of its reliable features, which is a good take in modern biometrics.
It is a promising technology as we know it. Like any other technologies out there, it has evolved in many ways over the years. There are also limitations and regulation issues along its name. The government and private sectors have mandated standards and guidelines about its technical security and ethics. It is an issue worth noting and the case is still lying on the table.
Notwithstanding the concern over privacy and security, facial recognition scanners are gradually making its wave in the world of automation (Zhu, 2020). Some business establishments and government agencies have already used the technology as this has proved to be an effective tool in streamlining visitors in a shared facility. Facial thermal scanner will likely persist even after the events of the pandemic as this is undoubtedly effective in fever checks and surveillance. It will likely develop in the coming years, and the benefits will surely be greater than the risks.
Facilityexecutive.com (2020). Unmanned Fever Alert Temperature Scanning Terminal. Retrieved from https://facilityexecutive.com/2020/06/unmanned-fever-alert-thermal-imaging-temperature-scanning-terminal/.
Fda.gov (2020). Non-contact Temperature Assessment Devices During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-covid-19-and-medical-devices/non-contact-temperature-assessment-devices-during-covid-19-pandemic.
Zhu, Melissa (2020). What is facial recognition, and why is it more relevant than ever during the coronavirus pandemic? Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/tech/policy/article/3108742/what-facial-recognition-and-why-more-relevant-ever-during-covid-19.