Beware Of FeevrBy: John Honovich, Published on Apr 14, 2020
Beware of "Feevr". The company is marketing a 'Feevr' solution that fundamentally lacks accuracy for its use, as its thermal provider FLIR has said and IPVM testing of the FLIR sensor Feevr uses has shown. Plus, it lacks FDA approval, as the company's premier distributor has admitted.
Feevr has refused to address these fundamental issues, instead repeatedly threatening legal action against IPVM.
Amidst this, the company says they are winning a growing number of huge USA companies.
Their home page features this demonstration - left 91.3°F, center, 90°F, right 99°F:
The red box on the right is an alarm on the person who may have a 'feevr' (99°F) but the sharp divergence in temperatures is more alarming. The two people on the left and center with 90-91°F temperatures are evidently dying of hypothermia or inaccuracy in measurement.
That's typical for Feevr's demos. Indeed, Feevr attempts to explain it as a positive in this Twitter video where they show even a lower reading of 89.6°F, excerpted below:
They then compare it to laser handheld thermometer, which reads similarly:
Instead of the obvious issue of the thermometer they are using, this is used as proof that Feevr works.
Feevr's CISO Jasun Tate responded to IPVM's accuracy concerns claiming:
The specifications for the FLIR One Pro and the many other products that are available are publicly available. The specifications outlined within our product and its capabilities are commiserate with the abundance FDA Approved Thermal Guns that are currently being leveraged literally across the entire world. [emphasis added]
However, that is simply wrong, as we explained to Feevr, the FLIR One Pro they use is 10x less accurate than, e.g., FLIR's FDA approved thermal gun, as we responded to Tate:
FDA approved thermal guns typically have more higher accuracy specifications. For example, the FLIR EXTech IR200 specifies "is accurate to 0.5°F (0.3°C)" which is much more accurate than the FLIR One Pro which has "Measurement Accuracy ±3°C (5.4°F) or ±5%".
Moreover, FLIR's spokesperson reinforced that problem, confirming to IPVM:
We do not recommend the FLIR ONE Pro or Lepton-based devices for this use case.
Indeed, FLIR's specifications are clear:
That is nowhere close enough to the precision needed to determine the fine differences between 'normal' body temperatures ~98°F and 'fevers' at ~100°F.
Moreover, IPVM tested the FLIR Pro One and it performed inaccurately for human temperature detection, just as FLIR indicated.
Repeated Legal Threats
In response, Feevr has threatened IPVM with legal action, saying:
We are keen on accuracy and fairness in our reporting so we asked them to enumerate what specific statements were false or objectionable so we could review and respond. Feevr again said:
Finally, Feevr had an attorney (though not from mega law firm Wilson Sonsini) send us a list of objections. We updated our original report with their feedback and called up their attorney and spoke for 40 minutes explaining our concerns about accuracy, FDA and their CEO's business track record. We agreed that Feevr would take ~5 hours until 5 pm PT April 13th to respond to those concerns. At ~5:10 pm PT, the attorney called me to ask for 45 more minutes saying they were working on a response. We agreed to the extension but just before 6pm PT, Feevr then declined to provide any response, again citing Wilson Sonsini:
The facts remain. The thermal sensor they are using is not specified nor recommended by their provider for such a 'feevr' application. And Feevr cannot address this, only threaten legal action.
Violates FDA Rules
Equally importantly, Feevr has no FDA approval for this device, an important matter the FDA explained to IPVM recently.
The CEO of Feevr's "premier US distributor" admitted the lack of approval saying:
We also asked Feevr about how they are handling their lack of FDA approval but they declined to comment on this as well.
However, SDS's CEO says they are winning big deals:
Thousands of the systems are in use today and one of our Fortune 5 customers just placed a follow on order for 500 more, thus validating it's usefulness.
Clearly, SDS and X.Labs (i.e., Feevr) consider this a 'fever detection device' that requires FDA regulation because they literally said so in their press release announcing this:
Accuracy and legal issues aside, we believe Feevr and SDS that they are selling a lot of these devices right now.
CEO Barry Oberholzer
The visionary behind this, Feevr's / X.Labs CEO Barry Oberholzer, has had an incredible career. Most recently featured in a 2019 Daily Beast profile: He’s a Wanted Man in South Africa. Now He’s Pushing an App to Help Solve School Shootings in America and as far back as 2012 in a WSJ article: South Africa Probes a Leader as Presidential Race Looms.
Oberholzer responded to IPVM's question about the allegations, saying:
these charges were dropped and were a result of improper representation due to the nature of my career with the government at the time.
UPDATE: South Africa Says Still Wanted
The South Africa National Prosecuting Authority says Oberholzer's claim is 'not true' and 'there is still an arrest warrant out for him':
Read Barry Oberholzer's charge sheet provided by the South African government.
Eric Ntabzalila is the NPA spokesperson and he is widely cited on the Internet in this role.
Oberholzer also included pre-emptive legal threats (even before Tate), warning:
What would you like to know pertaining to FEEVR as I would like to communicate on topics that keep us both founded in truth, while not perpetuating slanderous or defamatory elements that our legal team takes careful note of...
leveraging methods that can be considered slanderous, defamatory and ultimately incorrect is something me nor my organization takes lightly.
But no speculation needs to be made as Oberholzer has published an autobiography, "The Black Market Concierge: Sanction Busting, Smuggling & Spying for America". While his relationship with the US government cannot be verified, his own writing about what he did before his alleged US government relationship explains how he operates, with admissions such as:
my preference for seeing life as a game of roulette, where putting everything on black seemed as good a strategy as any.
Sometimes, the need – almost the desperation – to make some money or kick-start a business blinds you to the consequences. You start to justify to yourself the shadier side of a deal, take short cuts that would not go down well at business school.
there were ways to circumvent sanctions: elaborate routes, descriptions of exports that were artful and inventive, a mesh of companies that were here today and gone tomorrow. Even the US Treasury and the CIA couldn’t keep track of every transaction. And I continued to tell myself that what we were doing was fair. There were no weapons involved, nor technology that would make them. But I was deceiving myself. I knew the Iranians were trying to reverse engineer the technology they were able to obtain.
As a US citizen, I was obviously subject to US law and some of my business ventures – the good, the bad and the ugly – had probably veered beyond the limits of federal legislation.
We asked Feevr for feedback on Oberholzer's statements in his book but Feevr declined.
Feevr Winning But Risks Remain
Oberholzer's self-stated preference for 'putting everything on black' is happening here. And he, Feevr, and SDS are winning big right now.
And, if despite the issues raised by their thermal provider FLIR and the lack of FDA approval, customers want to use such a device for 'fever detection', so be it, but this does pose risks to the public who may depend on this to avoid being infected in this ongoing crisis.