FAQ about thermal cameras - Security Center

series
Security Center
revised_modified
2020-04-30

What are thermal cameras?

A thermal camera is a camera that creates images using infrared radiation instead of visible light. The capture and analysis of the data they provide is called thermography.

Can all thermal cameras be used to calculate temperature?

No. To measure temperature, a thermal camera must also support radiometry. Thermal cameras that do not support radiometry can only detect temperature changes.

Can a thermal radiometric camera identify COVID-19 cases?

No. At best, it can identify humans whose surface (or skin) temperature is higher than a certain threshold. Although an elevated surface temperature might indicate the presence of a fever, further medical testing is required to confirm an elevated body temperature. Because surface temperature fluctuates more readily than body temperature and is susceptible to change based on a person’s surroundings, it is not an accurate indication of a person’s core temperature. In addition, to measure surface temperature accurately, the camera needs to be correctly calibrated before initial use, and then re-calibrated daily.

CAUTION:
Using a device to determine whether someone has a fever means that the intended use of the device is for medical purposes. Make sure to check with your local legislation before proceeding.

In the USA, devices used for such use cases need to be cleared by the FDA to be legally marketed. Thermal cameras could be used to triage people that would then require further analysis. Claiming otherwise could be deemed illegal.

Which thermal cameras are approved by the FDA?

Currently, only the following devices are cleared by the FDA. This includes FLIR devices that belong to their Instruments portfolio and lack the proper interfaces to be integrated with Security Center.

In April 2020, FLIR released the A400/A700 Smart Sensor. We are currently evaluating if a future integration with Security Center is possible.

For more information about the FDA’s recommendations on the use of thermal cameras as fever detection systems, check out their enforcement policy.

Some manufacturers are making aggressive claims about their equipment's capabilities. How do I distinguish fact from fiction?

We have seen a lot of unrealistic marketing material lately and this is a concern for Genetec Inc.

Beware of companies that claim that their equipment can detect fever, or that they can function properly outdoors or in a crowded environment. Accurate measurements require controlled ambient conditions and a controlled flow of people passing in front of the camera while looking at it. In any case, Security Center is an open platform and we are always looking to work with reputable manufacturers.

What camera manufacturers and models can currently be used to do a triage within Security Center?

There are currently two camera manufacturers: Mobotix and Axis.

Mobotix

We recommend using the Mobotix M16-Thermal-TR or S16-Thermal-TR series and to configure the cameras to generate events when detecting a temperature higher than 38°C (100.4°F). Security Center can receive custom thermal events generated by this camera.

Axis Thermal Camera Q2901-E, using the HTC (Human Temperature Control) ACAP (Axis Camera Application Platform)

This ACAP is developed by an Axis technology partner, Grekkom, and it can be used to detect elevated skin surface temperatures. In evaluating this camera as a possible solution, consider the following statement from the AXIS website:

Under specific conditions, some Axis thermal cameras are capable of precise temperature measurements, but they are not designed by Axis for the specific intention of human fever detection nor the diagnosis, mitigation or prevention of disease or health conditions. Thus, Axis thermal cameras are, for example, not approved by FDA in the US for this use.

Do I need a special license in Security Center for thermal cameras?

No. Thermal cameras use a regular camera connection license in Security Center.

How do I set up a thermal camera as a triage device?

Recommendations vary among camera manufacturers. We recommend following these general guidelines to best prepare you for a typical installation.

  • Set up a checkpoint, using a physical gate or turnstile, so that the person is forced to stop in front of the thermal camera for a few seconds. This way the camera can correctly measure the temperature.
  • Make sure that people pass in front of the camera one at a time.
  • The person whose temperature is being measured needs to be approximately 1 m (3.28 ft.) away from the camera.
  • The camera needs to be installed indoors so that the ambient temperature and humidity can be controlled.
  • To help ensure ambient temperature, we recommend not to install the camera close to a door.
  • For accurate results, point the camera to a person's forehead when measuring their temperature. All headgear must be removed.
  • Know that the human body emissivity is approximately 98%. You need this emissivity reading when calibrating your thermal cameras.
  • The event threshold should be higher than 38°C (100.4°F).
  • People that trigger an alarm should be tested further, using FDA-approved equipment.
  • Calibrate the thermal camera daily.
  • When calibrating the camera, remove any nearby objects that can negatively affect the calibration (for example, a hot drink).
  • Always use the latest firmware available for the camera. Doing so increases the chances of getting accurate results.
IMPORTANT: Do not measure someone's surface temperature if they've been out in the sun for a long time or if they've been in a cold environment. Always follow the recommended medical best practices when measuring skin surface and body temperatures.

To learn more, watch this video about fever detection guidelines from our Genetec™ Podcast Series.