FLIR Suspends Agreement With FeevrBy: John Honovich, Published on May 07, 2020
Thermal manufacturer FLIR has suspended its agreement with Feevr (aka X.Labs), X.Labs said in a new legal filing, suing and blaming IPVM.
[UPDATE: X.Labs says they have signed a new agreement with FLIR though FLIR has not commented.]
This comes amidst a booming 'fever camera' market and a growing debate about the effectiveness and use of these devices.
Feevr is an offering of Royal Holdings Technologies (aka X.Labs) launched on March 25, 2020. Feevr uses an Android device, FLIR thermal imager (the FLIR ONE Pro phone add-on), and an app to "detect individuals in a crowd with an elevated temperature", as these excerpts from their website below visualize:
While companies claiming moving elevated temperature detection are generally charging $10,000 or more, Feevr is charging only a fraction of that, making it one of the lowest cost offerings in its category.
FLIR Usage Issues - Accuracy and SDK License
IPVM has reported potential issues with Feevr's FLIR usage, both on accuracy and using the FLIR SDK.
As we explained previously, the FLIR One Pro they use is 10x less accurate than, e.g., FLIR's FDA approved thermal gun, as we responded to X.Labs CISO:
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.
Secondly, the FLIR SDK License Agreement prohibits the use of FLIR devices, like the FLIR ONE Pro that Feevr uses, from apps like Feevr's:
While FLIR declined to comment on any legal discussions, they confirmed the FLIR SDK clause about not marketing for medical or health purposes.
X.Labs told us that:
Feevr doesn't use the flir SDK. Feevr uses it's own custom app witha FLIR camera.
Surely, Feevr uses its own custom app but Feevr needs to access the temperature data from the FLIR thermal sensor which is what the FLIR SDK provides.
FLIR has now suspended its agreement with X.Labs, the company said in a legal filing, in which they sued and blamed IPVM. The complaint says:
IPVM’s false, misleading, disparaging, and deceptive statements caused X.Labs’ supplier, Flir, to suspend its agreement with X.Labs for a period of time.
X.Labs did not explain what specific agreement was suspended by FLIR or what the company would now do, given the actions of the company's core thermal component supplier.
Update: The complaint also notes that "X.Labs also has supplier contracts, notably with Flir." Presumably, the agreement being suspended is that supplier contract. However, it is not detailed what that contract covers, e.g., is that simply for discounts or does that restrict the ability to buy or use FLIR components (e.g., the FLIR Pro One is readily available for sale on Amazon) or does it impact X.Labs ability to use FLIR's software or brand, etc. All of these elements would affect the impact on X.Labs.
FLIR declined to comment on X.Labs' statement here.
Feevr Touted FLIR, IPVM Reached Out To FLIR
The cause of IPVM's inquires and reporting into Feevr's relationship with FLIR is simple. Feevr touted being 'Powered by FLIR' when they launched in March in a video the company has now removed. We saved a copy and share the relevant excerpt below:
As part of our ongoing world-leading coverage of such products, we reached out to FLIR, because Feevr was a new offering and X.Labs used FLIR as validation.
Back in March, Feevr's homepage explicitly called out COVID-19 as shown below:
In response, FLIR provided us the information reported above about the accuracy concerns, applicability, and SDK risks.
What Next For FLIR and Feevr
What happens next is unclear. In X.Lab's legal filing, the company explained:
The Feevr system includes a proprietary AI-based mobile app integrated into a smartphone connected to a thermal imaging camera, such as the Flir One Pro camera.
As X.Labs alludes, it is possible that the Feevr app connects to another thermal imaging camera. How that would impact the company depends on the capabilities of whatever thermal imaging camera they choose.
Certainly, the Android-based approach provides a lower cost structure than rivals but the use of an add-on camera increases challenges of incorporating a thermal device with sufficient accuracy to "detect individuals in a crowd with an elevated temperature".
Update March 12, 2020 - X.Labs Says New FLIR Agreement
X.Labs says they have a new agreement with FLIR though FLIR has not yet commented on the matter.
X.Labs announced "the signing of a product supply agreement with FLIR Commercial Systems" but the announcement included no quote nor name from FLIR. X.Labs CEO, on LinkedIn, recently made a similar declaration:
you will see that FLIR signed a new agreement with our company in April and this is still in full effect. That copy is attached as an Exhibit to the papers
However, we did not find any copy nor exhibit with such an agreement in those papers.
We reached out to X.Labs for more details and to FLIR for confirmation and will update with their response if provided.