Axis Recommends Thermal Cameras To Detect Ebola

Here's the claim (from Roy Alves, Regional Business Development Manager for Axis Communications):

"Since thermal cameras look at people’s heat signatures, they are able to detect whether someone has a fever. This can be used to alert the authorities to someone who may have been infected with the Ebola virus at crucial junctures like airports, bus stations, and border crossings."

What do you think?

Moreover, what security / safety measures can really be taken to dealing with people having Ebola?

The idea of using it to screen for Ebola is absurd.

How is the author associated with Axis? His bio says:

Sam Wakoba reports on technology startups and innovations globally. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya. To have him speak at your event, drop him a mail at

The author isn't the one who made the claim referenced above - it was a quote from the Axis regional biz dev guy.

I just read it again and see the quote now.

I am constantly amazed at some of the utter bullshit that come out of the mouths of people in our industry

"...thermal imaging can also be used as a safer method for screening patients for breast cancer instead of less comfortable methods that expose patients to radiation such as mammography."

say what?

Ebola causes a fever of around 101 or 102 degrees Fahrenheit so seems like that would pick up at a color other than the normal 98 to 99 temp right? Can't the cameras be tweaked to note minor changes or not really? I think if you had each person stand in a designated spot for 10 or 15 seconds you could do this, but scanning a crowd as it moves or just a normal walk through at a security checkpoint probably not.

Basically playing devil’s advocate here, but I’ll bet it could be done it is just not at all practical or even in the realm of feasibility.

Reminds me of the Ecstacy/MDMA discussion we had a few months ago on whether or not a thermal camera can detect somone "Rolling".

Last time I went into China they had thermal cameras at customs scanning people as they came through for "flu symptoms".

Here is the link to the white paper about the use of thermal cameras for the detection of SARS in travelers by FLIR, the company I work for.

It's a long read and those familiar with thermal would recognize the subtle difference between a security camera and a radiometric measuring tool. Notice the ATC functionality not found in security cameras as well as a calibrated temperature reading.

This reminds me of the aftermath of Boston and how many Facial Recognition and Analytics companies came out and said their product either did or would have prevented or solved the crime.

Even with the calibrated radiometric cameras we are releasing for security now, I wouldn't make this statement, but that's me. Just sayin....

"In addition, FLIR Systems cameras are equipped with a sound alarm. If the temperature exceeds a predefined value, a buzzer alarm will go off. A subject activating the alarm, can easily be taken aside for further examination on site or in a medical centre."

Greg, do all FLIR cameras have this or only certain models? I am curious about the temperature 'analytics'?

Absolutely not John. In fact I had to search for this white paper because it's a different division. Once the FLIR ONE is shipping I guess people will find it useful for checking seat mates on airplanes LOL

...or waving over my chicken and pork chops first to make sure I won't catch worms or salmonella.

We all know the true purpose of the FLIR ONE is to check which toilet seat isn't still warm from the previous guest.

I heard that function wasn't available 'til FLIR #TWO

You guys are so funny, keep it going and I'll trademark some of these great ideas! @John, FLIR manufactures hand held temperature measurement devices that range from a little over a thousand dollars to scientific devices that cost over one hundred thousand dollars. We are migrating a limited field of views into the security range for dual purpose. I'm sure Rukmini and Rogier will have many creative ideas for those.

Another Sales Tactic to sell more stuff that does not meet the requirement but makes someone fell good.


Temperature monitoring (Body Heat Signatures ) can be accomplished with real industrial equipment made in the medical industry for that application by professionals who know what to look for , not by off the street , body frisking , guards with no education/ training in the medical industry

By the time you have identified the Ebola, chances are you have been exposed or close encounter to exposure.

Systematic approach to identification

What about the sick people who have higher temps from other illnesses? So do we classify every higher temperature case as ebola?

No, but you would classify anyone with a higher than normal temp as needing additional screening. Luckily Ebola is only transferred via actual contact with body fluids so it is not as easy to get as a cold or flu. Again I am not saying it is feasible or even possible with AXIS cameras, but the idea is certainly sound.

Update: first case of Ebola in US via passenger plane, tracking down those who might have been infected.