Detecting Coronavirus Fevers With Thermal Cameras

By Ethan Ace, John Honovich, and Charles Rollet, Published Mar 15, 2020, 01:53am EDT

MAY 2020 Update: This post was our early examination of these systems being used in the pandemic.

For more up to date coverage, see The Booming Multi-Billion Coronavirus Fever Camera Market and World IEC Fever Screening Standards Explained as well as our growing library of tests:

Demand for thermal cameras as a tool for authorities to help detect fevers has skyrocketed as coronavirus spreads across the world.

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But there are significant concerns about how accurately they work. In this report, we examine:

  • Biggest accuracy issues
  • Setup examples
  • Problems examples
  • Temperature variance issues
  • Optimizing accuracy
  • Survey of options ranging from FLIR and Optotherm from the US to various China suppliers including Dahua, Hikvision and Sunell
  • Performance claims and pricing differentials for thermal products offered.
  • The rising importance

Biggest Accuracy Issues

In our research of various options, we found 4 fundamental accuracy issues:

  • Camera temperature detection accuracy - while some manufacturers claim accuracy to as precise as 0.3°C, we are skeptical of actual field accuracy as these are likely overinflated. Surveillance users can compare to lux ratings.
  • The positioning of cameras - many cameras being used to detect temperature are positioned perpendicularly to the person and/or the person is on the move. This significantly reduces the probability of an accurate reading, as one is briefly getting the side of a person's head, which typically has a lower temperature reading.
  • Reading temperature on the forehead and other areas of the face is heavily impacted by environmental factors. In airports, for example, subjects entering from outside will be skewed by hot, sunny days or very cold temperatures, or those running to catch a flight may be flushed, raising surface skin temperature.

  • The use of blackbody devices (powered heated elements) is rarely emphasized but frequently required by such systems, increasing the cost and complexity of deploying them.

Pricing variance: Beyond accuracy issues, the other major issue that stood out was drastic differences in pricing, ranging from the ~$10,000 range for US cameras like FLIR, Optotherm and some China systems that are marketed specifically for human body temperature reading to hundreds of dollars for China models. However, FLIR does offer much less expensive cameras that detect temperature but do not recommend because of accuracy limitations.

Key Issue: No Independent Tests

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A core issue is there are no independent tests of thermal camera performance/accuracy and no independent standards to measure against. This has allowed manufacturers to tout products meant for body/fire detection as a fever solution, or falsely claim pinpoint accuracy at long distances. We urge caution against buying low-cost thermal solutions from any manufacturer.

UPDATE May 2020

IPVM has now conducted a series of independent tests, including:

IPVM is continuing to publish new test reports.

Setup Examples

First is an example from Wuhan, the origin of the epidemic, where a NY Times reporter took a photo of herself having her temperature detected. We have translated the screen for context:

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Despite translating and searching in both English and Chinese, we could not find the name of the manufacturer. The on-screen text indicates it the device combines color and thermal cameras, color for display purposes and thermal for measuring temperature.

In some cases, people are moving directly towards the camera, as this AFP photo shows FLIR in Malaysia:

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Here is another case where the person is moving directly but notice how the person head often will turn the other way, as this AFP news video of the airport in Hanoi, Vietnam using OptoTherm equipment can be seen:

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In the case below, the camera (highlighted in the red box) is at a moderate angle to traffic, as shown in this NY Times report showing a Thailand mall:

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The crowd of people makes it more difficult to tell. Note; red is for alarming on temperatures over 38.0° C ( 100.4° F).

By contrast, other detectors are used to measure temperature person by person as this example in the Philippines shows:

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Of course, the obvious tradeoff of this vs thermal cameras is that a person is required to measure temperatures one at a time, which requires a lot more time and staff to implement.

However, the plus side of having a person read temperatures one by one is decreased errors due to people's heads not being properly aligned with cameras and having the sensor much closer to the person.

Problems Examples

A common problem is that readings come in too low, especially when the camera is reading the side of someone's head:

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And again in the example below:

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There are also examples of a handheld infrared thermometer having significant accuracy issues, as shown by this Economist reporter who tweeted that one gave him a 32.1ºC / 89.8ºF temperature, which would mean he is dying of hypothermia:

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Neither the model nor make of that device nor other particulars were available. The underlying point of under readings, though, remains clear.

Another example of infrared thermometers' unreliability comes from an NYT reporter, who tweeted he was constantly getting "corpse-level" 34ºC readings:

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Skin Temperature Lower Than Body Temperature

Likely contributing to these issues is that skin temperature is colder than someone's actual (internal) body temperature. Known as the "skin temperature offset" as explained by OptoTherm, this difference can be a few degrees Celsius:

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Optimizing Accuracy

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To get the most accurate readings, according to a source in this field, one needs:

the person face the camera, remove glasses and allow the camera to image the inner canthus [corner] of the eye

Glasses can distort the readings since they interfere with measuring heat from the body. Moreover, the inner canthus of the eye emits higher, more accurate temperature than the skin.

Moreover, like with cameras generally, the pixel density has a factor with lower pixel density increasing accuracy issues:

Trying to get a reading of a person far away will also significantly decrease performance as recommendations are to get 9 to 16 pixels on the 1/4 inch area of the eye, which effectively limits the overall camera's FoV

One technique that is sometimes used is effectively doing relative measurements, such that what stands out is a person whose readings are higher than others in the immediate vicinity / time frame. This still has the risk of people with fevers being missed if the camera only reads the side of their head at a poor angle or distance, etc.

Blackbody UsageIPVM Image

Many of these systems use a blackbody, an expensive device that emits heat at precise levels to help improve the accuracy of the thermal camera measuring people's temperatures.

The problem is that the difference between normal human temperatures (say 37°C) and fevers (say 38°C) is very small (just 2.7%) so even slight errors in measuring temperatures can cause false readings.

The goal of the blackbody is to provide a fixed, accurate temperature reading so that the thermal temperature measurement system can reduce their error rate.

The blackbody is positioned in the thermal camera's Field of View as this excerpt of a Dahua video shows on the left side:

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And below is an example layout from Uniview showing a blackbody deployed in a similar fashion:

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Finally, below is an example from a Hikvision marketing demo showing its blackbody in the FoV of the thermal camera:

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The blackbody needs to be powered and it needs to be mounted close to, if not somewhat in the way of people walking by. It also needs to be calibrated and work correctly or else it will make the system less accurate.


Accuracy claims are difficult to assess as some manufacturers are conservative and others almost certainly lying. For example, FLIR states that thermal cameras typically have accuracy +/- 2ºC, but that "with proper calibration and attention to factors such as ambient temperature, emissivity, and spot size, the possible margin of error can be less than 1ºC." Other manufacturers, particularly in China, have claimed up to 0.1°C accuracy, though, of course, whether they are accurate in their accuracy claims should be treated with skepticism.

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If deployed properly - with a focus on individual people rather than large groups all at once - thermal cameras are useful, but will not catch all those infected, said Ben Cowling, a professor at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health:

Yes quite a number of the imported cases have been picked up by thermal scanners. It can pick up people with a high body temperature. Those can then be verified with a hand-held thermometer. It does not pick up people who have been infected but do not yet show symptoms ("during the incubation period"). For the new coronavirus, the incubation period could be up to 14 days. So it will catch some infected people but miss others. It does not pick up infected people with symptoms but who do not have a fever, for example the Chinese tourist who went to France, departed with a fever but took paracetamol to evade the thermal scanners. Some infected people may have symptoms (e.g. coughing) but no fever. It is useful but will not identify every infected person.

Limited Studies

A 2010 study from the US' Center for Disease Control that a FLIR A20M camera and an Optotherm Thermoscreen were each "reasonably accurate in detecting fever and were better predictors of fever than self report". IPVM could not find a more recent study as authoritative.

However, worth noting the test was limited to the much more expensive units and is a decade old.

FLIR Offerings

While FLIR has various thermal cameras, FLIR only markets a limited number of thermal cameras for body temperature detection. Notably, FLIR does not recommend its conventional security thermal cameras for body temperature detection.

FLIR provided us a list of models they say may be considered include the portable FLIR E75, E85, E95, T530, T540, T840, T860 and the FLIR T1020 (T1K), or fixed mount A310, A315, A615, and A655sc, the latter of which is a more accurate, higher resolution, but more expensive option.

US FDA 510K Certification

In the US, there is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certification called 510(K) which impacts the use of thermal for detecting body temperatures, according to both FLIR and Optotherm.

FLIR says:

These FDA-certified cameras (510(k) submission K033967) were designated with an intended use specifically in public areas, i.e., airports, to allow operators to visualize and document temperature patterns and changes.

Here is the FDA 501(K) listing for FLIR and the 2004 summary PDF report.

We do not understand enough how the 501(K) process works or how it actually verifies performance since it requires comparison to devices released prior to 1976:

Submitters must compare their device to one or more similar legally marketed devices and make and support their substantial equivalence claims. A legally marketed device is a device that was legally marketed prior to May 28, 1976

OptoTherm Offering

OptoTherm sells a single solution called Thermoscreen. This clip from the AFP news video shows it in action:

Notably, OptoTherm declares on their website that it cannot be sold in the US due to a current lack of 510(K) certification:

This product is currently for export only. Optotherm is currently undergoing the US FDA Premarket Notification (510k) submission process for medical devices. As soon as Thermoscreen has been cleared, this product will be available for purchase in the US.

PRC Manufacturer Dubious Claims

IPVM has noticed several PRC manufacturers touting their thermal solutions in light of the Wuhan virus. However all of them had significant issues:

  • A Sunell thermal camera demo showing pinpoint accuracy at a long distance, which is suspicious to impossible
  • Dahua claiming its thermal cameras can detect fevers with pinpoint accuracy, even though they are meant for detecting fires in electrical substations and bodies at border crossings
  • Hikvision deleting a tweet showing a wide range of body temperature detections for a single person

Panda Cam Claim from Sunell

A Sunell employee on LinkedIn posted that their "Panda" camera could help "protect us from Coronary virus" [sic]. This is the Sunell TN-5 we saw at ISC West last year.

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However, this solution is unproven and makes a number of dubious claims, including pinpoint (to a fraction of a degree) temperature readings for people at a significant distance, as shown in this demo:

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At such a high distance, with little to no focus on the crucial inner part of the eye, such a specific body temperature reading is simply not possible.

Even more astounding, this demo gets 4 readings in a row all within a fraction of 1 degree Celsius from ideal body temperature, which means this is astoundingly lucky, incredibly accurate or simply rigged:

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Additionally, in its specs, Sunell states the Panda cam has +/- "less than 0.3°C" accuracy in ideal conditions, which is far more accurate than the typical +/- 1°C accuracy in ideal conditions that FLIR says is possible. Their specs also don't include a recommended minimum distance or a description of what ideal conditions actually are.

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There is no evidence the Panda camera is being deployed against the coronavirus. When IPVM reached out to Sunell, they were unable to answer any questions about the SN-T5.

Hikvision Deletes Thermal Tweet, Sends Equipment to Wuhan

Shortly after the virus became international news, Hikvision Italy's Twitter account shared a video of thermal camera surveillance footage referencing current events, implying that Hikvision products could be used as a coronavirus solution. Below is the video, which shows a considerable range of temperature:

However, when we reached out to Hikvision, they deleted the video and told us:

We have deleted the tweet, it was part of an ongoing thermal campaign in Italy and could now be deemed misplaced.

Separately, a local news report from Hikvision's Hangzhou HQ said that on January 22, Hikvision dispatched nearly 1,000 "sets of video capturing and analytics products as well as thermal detection devices" to Wuhan's Hospital Number 7, sending another 40 sets of thermal devices a day later due to local shortages:

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The specific Hikvision devices being packaged are the H10 infrared thermometers, which are sold on Alibaba for about $288 (1999 CNY) and also have reported accuracy of +/- 2ºC. This is the same accuracy as FLIR, a company that specializes in thermal solutions, and we have no way of confirming whether this reported accuracy is true. These devices are also only advertised for industrial purposes.

Another news report states Hikvision has set up an emergency committee to deal with the virus response.

Hikvision declined to comment on its response to the Wuhan virus.

Dahua Touts Unrelated Thermal Product Line

In response to the virus, Dahua's Chinese social media account issued a post titled "Dahua will always guard you!" that touted its thermal camera and access control solutions, claiming accuracy within 0.3ºC like Sunell.

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However, 3 of the products above have different purposes than human body temperature, according to Dahua's own promotional video.

The two bullet cams (BF5x00 left, BF2120 right) are meant for indoor monitoring/perimeter protection/fire detection while the camera on the lower right (PT8x20b) is meant for city surveillance (i.e. body detection) and detecting fire hazards at electrical substations. We could not identify the fourth camera. Furthermore, while Dahua's post touted +/- 0.3°C accuracy, these cameras' specs all list +/- 2°C accuracy.

Fire and body detection, obviously, requires much lower accuracy than detecting a human fever, but there is no mention of these cameras' original purpose in Dahua's post. The promotion of this series amid the coronavirus crisis showcases the danger in taking surveillance manufacturers' claims at face value.

PRC Government Mandates Anti-Virus Equipment Production

China is currently experiencing critical shortages of thermal detection equipment, face masks, hand sanitizer, etc, leading the PRC government to announce measures ensuring the production of such goods:

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Although this directive mandates enterprises to "strengthen product quality management", IPVM has not found any mention here (or anywhere else) of specific measures targeting thermal screening accuracy.

Delivery Food Includes Temperature of Those Involved

The measuring of temperatures is becoming a broad phenomenon inside of China. For example, this Twitter user shared an image of a delivery slip where the "food preparer, packer, and the courier all have to measure their temperatures":

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The card above is from Yunhaiyao, a chain restaurant serving Yunnan cuisine across major cities in China and overseas. We saw other reports on Weibo of similar activities from other chains.

Outlook - Thermal Challenges But Difficult Conditions

While using thermal cameras for temperature detection presents challenges, the difficult conditions faced clearly have spurred their use. And the quick acceleration of these challenges means that most users and few suppliers are ready with highly accurate thermal detectors.

We plan to update this report as we have more information on accuracy, best practices, options and usage of thermal cameras detecting body temperatures and alerting on fevers.

[Note: This post was originally published in February 2020 when thermal camera use first emerged in China and updated in March 2020 as coronavirus has spread worldwide.]

9 reports cite this report:

Dahua and Hikvision Fever Cameras Endanger French and Scottish Nursing Homes on Jun 09, 2020
Dahua and Hikvision fever cameras are being used at, respectively, French and...
ProCam Low-Cost Open Thermal Temperature Project on May 12, 2020
An engineering professor in Switzerland is building what he hopes will be the...
World IEC Fever Screening Standards Explained on May 04, 2020
While 'fever detection' is new to most people, the technology has been...
IPVM For PR / Marketing People on Apr 29, 2020
Since IPVM does not accept advertising nor sponsorships, etc., PR / marketing...
The Booming Multi-Billion Coronavirus Fever Camera Market on Apr 21, 2020
The market for elevated body temperature detection cameras, aka 'coronavirus...
Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used...
Coronavirus Hits Manufacturers, Standing Now, Worse To Come on Apr 06, 2020
Coronavirus is hitting security manufacturers, though overall modestly for...
Faked Coronavirus Fever Detection, Athena Used Hikvision; Responds - Selling NDAA Compliant Cameras, Pledging 50% Of Profits to Victims on Mar 24, 2020
US company, Athena Security, faked its coronavirus fever detection marketing,...
Glossary / Acronyms for Video Surveillance on Feb 10, 2020
This directory provides definitions and explanations for over 90 common video...

Comments (136)

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worth noting that PRC state media just tweeted out a video of a drone taking people's temperatures:

Given the difficulty of getting ideal conditions & close ups of people's inner eyes using this method, this is highly unlikely to be accurate (although it does look cool).

Wow, the degree to which they are throwing everything they have (including some very dubious tools) at this outbreak really highlights how spooked the PRC is...

I think if they really were spooked they wouldn't be using "Benny Hill" type music in the video.

Thank You, i was afraid to mention Benny Hill. Way to take one for the team.

Charles, very interesting. Btw, here is a screencap showing the drone's user interface and that the person has a 35.6° C (96.1° F) reading:

Given how low these readings tend to be, if someone actually gets a 'normal' 37° C / 98.6° F reading, is that considered a fever.

Also, going outdoors in winter will lower someone's surface skin temperature.

FWIW more recent research indicates that the "normal" body temp is actually lower than 98.6 these days.

When is body temperature too low? - Harvard Health

It's a fear / intimidation & placebo effect to enforce a quarantine.

I'm curious to know if any solutions described above (FLIR, OptoTherm, HIk/Dahua) use reference based temperatures for increased accuracy? This seems like an easy way to combat emissivity and would seem prudent during this outbreak.

Soon everyone will be wearing mud and clay to avoid detection....

Currently we are doing the tests using the Camera that's on this photo and the Blackbody device, and you are right, the only correct logics to get most accurate results is to use reference and comparison method, rather than relying just on the measurement results.

Black body devices shown in the picture create a stable temperature to reference. Similar devices are used in the factory to calibrate the individual “pixels”.

The fourth unidentified camera in the Dahua image above is the blackbody device. Having been in contact with the Dahua country team, the thermal camera alone is claimed to have +/- 1 degree celsius. With the addition of the blackbody device, the accuracy is improved to +/- 0.3 degree celsius

As I know a blackbody can be also impacted by ambient environment.

I wonder whether it is possible to get the ±0.3℃ accuracy if the blackbody is not correct.

I added this example into the post - an NYT reporter tweeted that he was constantly getting "corpse level" body temp readings from infrared thermometers, noting they often "simply don't function":

Separately, Chinese state media outlet People's Daily (the same outlet behind the drone video) tweeted about thermal cameras deployed against the coronavirus detecting people's farts. Not very mature or useful, but that doesn't seem to be the point...

UPDATE: the video shared by People's Daily is 100% fake, Gizmodo explains.

Dahua has a new social media post / video showing one of its camera being used in its hometown of Hangzhou:

SCMP has a video on Twitter showing a thermal camera in operation, screencap below:

Interestingly, again, the temperature detected is so slow, 28 / 32.5° C.

I do wonder how you can screen so many people at the same time with such an inaccurate process.

UPDATE: Dahua is falsely claiming on Twitter that their thermal solution has accuracy of ±0.1 ℃, which is a level that's simply impossible (as we covered in this post.) Somehow, though, Dahua claims their thermal cameras have been "successfully applied in" train stations, hospitals, and airports, "effectively curbing the spread of the outbreak."

Sounds like a disconnect between engineering and marketing. A ±0.1 ℃ accuracy on the actual microbolometer is certainly feasible when the device is being calibrated and certified in the manufacturing process, but that does not translate through to the same accuracy in measuring random objects like people.

This whole thermal camera for flu detection is total security theater and posturing common in China. Pretend like you have the situation under control, and put fear into people that if they go out in public with the flu they will be apprehended.


There are liars, damn liars and facts.

According to Joe Biden the truth is not facts.

.06c sensitivity in an uncooled FLIR device.

I’m not defending the Dahua ads, or promoting FLIR, but the use of thermal at airports using calibrated (black box) imagers is old news, not new news.

You have to define the emissivity (what it’s looking at) and while it won’t be “spot on” the technology gives you a first glance.

Anyone ever wonder how they take the temperature of the earth from a satellite?


What about false alarms?

Fake video. The issue of false positives is resolved. They send you over to someone with a hand held unit specifically designed for human temperature measurement.

Missed detections are an issue.

The issue of false positives is resolved

False positives are likely unlikely since the issue with reading is that they tend to be too low, rather than too high.

One thing I don't know but would be curious to hear is if they have adapted to that. For example, if there are readings are averaging a hypothermic 35° C, do they alarm / manually check anyone with a 37° C, which would at least theoretically be 'normal' to compensate?

that is quite a cold fart :)

Longse is now marketing thermal temperature detection plus facial recognition with mask on:

Longse has a poor track record on delivering quality.

I wonder whose technology Longse stole for this application.

Dahua has quite an amazing visual claim for its thermal cameras, they are representing they can accurately detect temperature from the profile of a person fairly far from the camera (see red box):

Dahua has a new marketing video showing their thermal camera temperature detection, emphasizing its high accuracy:

One thing that is not explained, which is worth highlighting, is that they are using a powered reference heater that allows them to calibrate / compare to, we have highlighted it below:

In general, these devices improve accuracy though it increases cost and logistical complexity as such a unit needs to be installed close to the thermal camera.

They show it briefly at the beginning of the video, but do not explain why it is there:

This FLIR blog post explains the "Blackbody" concept in more detail.

Thanks for that find and sharing the link!

Here is a diagram from Uniview about how they are using / setting up a blackbody with their cameras:

Anyone have part numbers for the black box radiators. The only ones I seem to find are used for high end thermal calibration and run well over $1k. Just curious to know if there are units in the couple hundred dollar range?

Hikvision is claiming and advertising detection in Benelux, this is a false detection.

this is a false detection

Stefaan, which / where is the false detection?

They are claiming an accuracy of 0.3°C in the add, with the use of a black box

Gert, I can barely read the text. The challenge is it's hard to know if a thermal system is accurate unless you spot check the actual subjects for ground truth.

I could take a face detector and apply a random number generator between 36.5 and 36.9° C, print that text next to the face and abstractly it would look accurate.

I am not claiming any manufacturer is doing this but it's important to emphasize that even if the numbers look accurate, you really need to measure each subject by hand to verify how accurate it is.


Couldn't agree more. It's not because they've made a picture with some numbers on it that it's actually true. I don't believe any of it for starters and certainly not the 0.3°C accuracy.

From what i've read about this the only useable scenario, seems to me, is using it in relative measurements to a known 'normal' subject and not mind to much about the actual numbers. But even in that case, there should be at least a dependable form of repeatability in the measurements

Sunell posted a marketing image on LinkedIn showing their thermal temperature measuring, notice the Blackbox heater on the right:

I am skeptical of how well this works with so many people and such a wide FoV. It's a bit hard to verify without actually taking people's individuals temperatures.

I am skeptical as well. This shows people in an indoor location, at rest. Have them move around, like running through an airport, go from outside to inside, etc. I think you will wind up seeing a pretty large range of temperatures read, with several potential false positives and false negatives.

sw running in the background is from Yitu FR engine. Thus u can see the accurate boxing of faces. I guess the software just grab the highest temp in each box and overlay on screen.

Also saw this: MGM and Wynn to close Las Vegas resorts amid pandemic | Coronavirus |

Did the Wynn folks not see what they were looking for w/ the cameras?

Does anyone have access to and or can provide part numbers for the black box radiators that have been mentioned here?

I can just advise the one we use for the same purposes: Isotech Model 988

#11, thanks for sharing. Their US online store is selling it for ~$4,000:

I am sure prices vary but the price range seems to be in the thousands of dollars for such a device.

You are welcome - the final installation looks like this:

do you have the parts and model numbers for this setup? Like what camera is paired with the black body source.


Most companies promoting thermal fever detection are not listing what the specific source or provider is. However, I found a Mobotix document that does - it lists an Optris BR 400 with a list price of ~$2,000 USD.

One of the things I find weird / troubling here is that these devices are all built and marketed as calibration devices and are not intended to run 24/7/365. How long and well they work is an important question (if you care about actual performance).

Yes this is potentially an issue.

In order to get the accuracy required any thermal camera system requires a reference temperature.

This need to be both accurate and stable.

And it will not only require correct installation but will require regular calibration.

Another thing to take into account is the effect the environment it's going to be installed in.

Basically its VERY possible to install an accurate temperature measuring system. But there are many factors involved to make sure it stays accurate

US company InVid is OEMing the Sunell PandaCam. They actually have a fairly informative setup video showing what is required with the blackbox and positioning to make this work:

I am not happy about the marketing messages used in the majority of these adverts.

The suggestion is they can detect covid-19, they can only detect temperature.

Most people don't get a high temperature for several days, during this time they are contagious.

I think it's not only misleading but potentially dangerous to suggest that no high temperature equals no problem.

The info about these products and the virus are a joke and anyone thinks you are going to read these temperatures this way with a camera or these devices has an IQ <50.

You should put these articles in the comic book section and call it "Todays Funnies ".

Body temperatures are not constant and can rise and fall. My average body temperature is 96.1 and has been for as long as I can remember and not 98.6.There are also environmental issues when taking temperature from any device not inserted or touching the human body.

Next thing we will be told is that " toilet paper is good to eat since it is scarce in many stores. Or maybe the news will declare it an endangered species.

Why would anyone believe what the people in China are saying since it is controlled country and commons knowledge what can happen to a person who just disagrees with the government. What about them putting the blame on the US Army since they say: we started the virus.

Reporters want a mass hysteria because it sells and the ignorant listen and believe," it was on the news so it has to be true".

Reporters want a mass hysteria because it sells and the ignorant listen and believe," it was on the news so it has to be true".

Lol, thanks! Just to be clear, the point of this article was to urge caution and skepticism about the use of thermal cameras, not to encourage people to blindly buy them.

How do you really feel about this though?

I was just asked to research this topic.....

We have a customer asking about these. They got some air time over the weekend.

Infrared for Medical Use | Infrared Cameras Inc.

Can IPVM take a look at what Athena Security is claiming and debunk it? Talk about waste, fraud, and abuse....these claims are going to put their entire company's reputation at risk!

CORONA VIRUS DETECTION SYSTEM | Corona Virus Thermal Detection

Thanks for sharing the Athena Security one. Here is a screencap of the offering:

I had not heard about this one. In fairness to me, their website was only created 7 days ago:

Quite a quick move!

I called them up and spoke for a few minutes. They confirmed that they do not use a black body, unlike most of these offerings. They claim to be accurate within 1°F and that they need to see / capture the eyes.

This is a really low price point (and it comes with their 'processing box' as well).

Interesting they are marketing this to:

And they have a single testimonial from 4 days ago:

I am pretty skeptical but we have not tested this and are not going to pay $4k to try out some tiny company's offering.

If I was them, I'd worry about the risk of marketing this to bring customers back only to find out that they missed someone. I guess they can argue that the person did not have a fever when they came in. This is a very gray area of marketing and operations.

This is the most dishonest company in the video analytics industry.

Don’t be sugar coating your opinion here.

I attach my name to all of my comments, so I thought about it for a few moments before I hit "Post Reply. I stand by what I said.

Here they are ripping off Vanderbilt University Medical Center's brochure on COVID-19, then just replacing it with new graphics and plastering their logo all over it.

In isolation, it's a minor act of plagiarization, but it's a continuing pattern of questionable claims and exaggerations.

Vanderbilt version: Layout 1

Athena version: athena security

@john This is the same Athena: Athena Fever Detection | Gun Detection System | Coronavirus detection

They have been around for awhile but their platform doesn't work, they have almost no sales, and their management team is nightmare (apparently).

And now they are outright pandering to the COVID-19 fears with a solution that most of us are 99% sure is a piece of shit.

Stuff like this reflects poorly on the video analytics industry as a whole.

Stuff like this reflects poorly on the video analytics industry as a whole.

Lol, the same industry that produced BRS Labs? I am not defending Athena in the least but it's an unfortunate repeated issue in video analytics.

I do know who Athena is and they have a track record of questionable claims. They are also, from what I have seen fairly tiny. If they get more attention, it's worth us investigating / reporting more.

They have been around for awhile but their platform doesn't work, they have almost no sales, and their management team is nightmare (apparently). And now they are outright pandering to the COVID-19 fears with a solution that most of us are 99% sur

Sounds to me you guys are competitors?

Not particularly

I've had their page open on my browser for the past two days and every time I periodically refresh the price jumps by a thousand dollars. An hour ago it was six thousand something and now it's higher again. But is anyone actually buying it? 🤔

Lol, you are right, they have increased the pricing more than 50%.

In a pandemic, a fever detector is a giffen good...

Athena got covered by Vice - Surveillance Firm Says It’s Selling ‘Coronavirus-Detecting’ Cameras in US - VICE

Lol, now it's even more accurate, per Vice:

The representative claimed that the software is accurate within half a degree

A lot of ambulance chasing here but the demand for a solution, even ones that may not work is high right now.

In a pandemic, a fever detector is a giffen good...

so you think the price increase alone is actually increasing the demand?

I suspect that charging more money is more likely to convince or make people confident that the product works. In the absence of clear information and in a panic, pricing has a strong signaling effect.

...charging more money is more likely to convince or make people confident that the product works.

and how much more confident did it make you? :)

how much more confident did it make you? :)

I am irrelevant since I am not the buyer here.

But consider who is? Companies are worried about their people dying and their businesses falling apart so pinching pennies on a device they believe may save their lives or businesses is not a priority. As such, they are more likely to believe a more expensive offering works.

Also, I know of no serious player (even China) claiming to sell a 1-degree accurate solution anywhere close to $3,900 so a low price is actually a negative signal. Now, at $7,100 ;)

There does not appear to be any "AI" at work here, it is just basic temperature threshold alarms, based on what the article outlines.

I do not see this working well at all.

This is my favourite bogus advert.

Most people appear to have a temperature between 32c and 34c

Hypothermia: <35.0 °C

The one with an alert is around 36c.

Normal: 36.5–37.5 °C

If your going to make it up at least try to make it realistic

This is one hell of a coronavirus claim:

The systems checks if a human in a crowd has a fever and it captures his face....

The person can be tracked across all the cameras in the network, until he reaches a location where an officer is available... This enables authorities to quarantine the person and support him oh her with medical help.

Full marketing:

And they have a new video where they demonstrate doing temperature detection at a 45° angle though there is a blackbox as shown in the upper left corner:

As it appears most have concluded, this approach is a complete joke, both in application of technology and the expectation of realistic positive outcomes.

Reminds me of Object Video 10+ years ago. “We detect bags left behind in busy airports and train stations!”

Yeah, sure you do (sarc). Problem is you’re wrong 90% of the time and missed it 90% of the time. On top of that, bombers put bags in trash cans, they don’t leave them out in the open.

Failure on all fronts.

Problem is you’re wrong 90% of the time and missed it 90% of the time.

Actually it is the opposite here.

It reminds me of a joke an engineering director once told me: "I can build a martian detector that works every time - not a martian, not a martian, not a martian.....".

With fever detection, statistically few people have fevers so even if all you ever did was return 98.6°F / 37°C every single time, you could claim accuracy of 98% or something. It does not mean the technology works, of course, but you could abstractly claim such success.

Statistics lie. They lie very well, but they still lie.

I was asked if our camera, when pointed at the sky, would detect UFO’s and follow them. I said sure, if it misses one and you can prove it I’ll give you your money back. I think he detected the sarcasm.

Note: Axis has a Temperature Alarm Camera, the Q2901-E, but Axis confirmed to us that they do not recommend it for human temperature measurement / fever detection.

I bring this up because there is a small analytics developer marketing an app running on this Axis camera to do so.

That said, Axis documentation is quite clear that it does not have the accuracy for such an application, e.g., the Q2901-E spec sheet says accuracy "Below 100 °C (212 °F): +/- 5 °C (+/-9 °F) accuracy" which is clearly nowhere close enough for human temperature measurement.

What Axis states is similar to FLIR's feedback for 'regular' thermal temperature cameras. We do suspect many companies are opportunistically marketing cameras that are not designed for such precision but are falsely claiming it.

I think its disgraceful that companies are doing this.

As a distributor for a major brand I have flatly refused to sell this kind of solution.

We have has loads of enquiries, but I will not sell something I do not believe will work in a real world environment.

And presents a possible false sence of security that can lead to a worsening of the situation.

Not sure why this is funny ?

They increased the price again and added a black body option.

Looks like they read IPVM ;-)

Just loving the fact that almost everyone is shown with hypothermia... lol

Now claiming 1,000 orders! So $8-9M revenue supposedly. Sure buddy.

LOL at their use of Hikvision thermal cameras.

Here's the Hik thermal camera model shown in the video.

The official Hik specs state "Temperature Accuracy: +/- 8 Degree C (14.4 Degree F) ".

They claim half a degree in the video...

FLIR now has a marketing video for their temperature detection offering:

Most notably, they are quite conservative recommending 1 person at a time:

and to take off glasses:

They also now have a dedicated marketing page that concludes:

What FLIR cameras are used for thermal screening?

While governments outside the United States may choose from many different cameras, FLIR has a 510(k) filing (K033967) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for select camera models for use as non-contact screening tools to detect differences in skin surface temperatures. These cameras include the FLIR Exx-Series, FLIR T-Series, and FLIR A310.

A statement from FLIR on using thermal cameras to detect COVID-19 infections:

Thermal Imaging for Detecting Elevated Body Temperature

Can thermal cameras be used to detect a virus or an infection? The quick answer to this question is no, thermal imaging cameras cannot be used to detect or diagnose an infection.

ENS is now pushing a solution

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Anyone have experience with Konica Minolta? They came knocking on our door once COVID-19 hit our area. My leadership is considering a screening technology and I have had a spectrum of project cost from 5K per unit to 70K per unit. We have been asked to look into the MOBOTIX M16D but I am not sure where to even look at this point. Everyone is either way over priced and have a large dependency on 3rd party software.

Hi Larry, thanks for your first comment!

Two things:

  • Just out of curiosity, can you share who is quoting $70k? That's very high per unit compared to everything I've heard.
  • Second, the M16D does offer thermographic measurement, but it's only accurate to ±10° C, which is nowhere near accurate enough for fever detection. There are some videos online of partners using it for that, but nothing directly from Mobotix. We've reached out to them for comment.

Thanks. The combo setup of 70K was a Flir Cameras with a 3rd party application.

Another gun detection company has entered this space with an amazing name and claim:

we have launched “CoronaScan” to detect the deadly virus

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But in the details, it is clearly a thermal temperature detector, not some magical deadly virus detection.

Here is a screencap of the camera they are using from their marketing page:

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I am wondering if anyone has heard of the below company? They are claiming to be able to measure body temperature using thermal cameras and have been doing so for years.

Is this temperature measurement GDPR compliant ?

Good question. The answer is simple: temperature measurement is not covered by the GDPR, since this is not personal data.

The GDPR only deals with the "processing of personal data", which is defined as "any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person." In simpler terms, this means any data that can identify a specific person - like a face or home address or cellphone number.

Since no one has a specific, constant body temperature that is unique to them, this is outside the scope of the GDPR. So temperature measurement is not affected by the GDPR in any way.

Sunell's Panda cam is being sold for Coronavirus detection by US whitelabeler InVid Tech.

Thank you Guys for the report and remarks.. very informative

Did you come across ?

they have this thermal camera "9640-p-series" that can work outdoor in high temp, with 1 degree accuracy "Didn't mention Blackbody", also they have the "Corona 640 camera" defined as not IR nor thermal but Daytime Ultraviolet Cameras “see” high voltage corona, which is emitted only at voltages above 7000 !

Here is the link to the datasheet

Dahua's solution seems to be getting traction...

Michael, thanks for sharing. Here is the link to the post and my response:

Update: The integrator promoting Dahua at the Miami municipality buildings has now deleted his post.

On March 27, the following story ran in the UK. Dahua – helping to prevent spread of COVID-19 . Excerpt:

If you wanted to measure the temperature of 5,000 people, it will take about 4.2 hours using a forehead thermometer, as it takes at least three seconds to measure a person. However, it takes only 30 minutes if you use Dahua Thermal Solution, which measures three people per second. It also features a high accuracy of ±0.3℃ .

This video has a good demonstration of the value of measuring temperature via tearduct and the problems of using glasses:

For example, the face with no glasses and hottest on the tear ducts (red):

And then what happens when he puts his glasses on:

Very interesting article from Why airport screening won’t stop the spread of coronavirus | Science | AAAS, key quotes:

Pudong has had a policy to scan all arriving passengers for fever using “noncontact thermal imaging” since late January; it also requires passengers to report their health status on arrival. It’s unclear whether any of the eight restaurant workers had symptoms, or how they handled that reporting. But after taking chartered cars to Lishui, their hometown, one of the passengers fell ill; she tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on 1 March. The next day, the remaining seven tested positive as well. They were the first confirmed cases in Zhejiang province in 1 week.

Most of the data are about Ebola, a serious viral disease whose incubation period is anywhere between 2 days and 3 weeks. Between August 2014 and January 2016, the review found, not a single Ebola case was detected among 300,000 passengers screened before boarding flights in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which all had big Ebola epidemics. But four infected passengers slipped through exit screening because they didn’t have symptoms yet.

Entry screening is “ineffective” in detecting infected travelers, Hadjichristodoulou and Mouchtouri tell Science. In the end, travelers with serious infectious diseases turn up at hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices rather than being caught at airports. And screening is costly: Canada spent an estimated $5.7 million on its SARS entry screening, and Australia spent $50,000 per detected H1N1 case in 2009, Hadjichristodoulou and Mouchtouri say.

Another interesting tear duct vs forehead vs glasses comparison based off of Dave Farquharson, Fluke engineer, interesting LinkedIn post:

Notice, that the tear duct is 3° warmer than the forehead but once the glasses are put on the tear duct temperature decreases by 7.6°.

And Sandie Chambers has a comment there noting:

If someone for example is sweating, then sweat acts as an insulator lowering your reading and you won't get an accurate temp reading. If someone has been stood in the hot days sun then solar radiation will increase body temp or skin temp and them you will have an increased false reading.

I've been reading and watching all the comments, I feel like these are all solid points that are being made.
Here is my perspective on the topic.

I think we can all agree that this is not a perfect solution. It will at times have a false positive or maybe a false negative. It's technically complex technology that is going to require educated integrators to install and maintain in order to get the best results.
And, this technology will be a tool in the arsenal in the prevention and spread of sickness. And some solutions are more advanced than others (Blackbody etc..)

That brings up my points about what's missing:
1) What does America look like Post Covid-19? What will become our day to day behaviors and policies for companies and meetings? Will Executives and BODs be allowed to all meet in the same room of a Corporation? extreme, maybe but it made you think. What about hand washing stations? Are we likely to start seeing these permanently installed at the entrances of businesses? Have we entered a new normal post this pandemic? Like the TSA post 9/11 it's here to stay.

2) Why is it a bad thing for our industry to honestly try and provide relevant and honest value to our communities without over-playing the reality of where the technology is today?

By the tone of the discussion, I feel like we are throwing the baby out with the bath water here. Let's look positively at how this does in fact help certain vertical markets and let's also look at continuing to throw the BS flag on bad actors in our industry that sell a lie. This is good stuff, we don't need to under sell or over sell this. It is what it is and I feel we can all make a difference in helping get this country back to work in time.

I for one, feel that companies with large workforces who choose to provide this for their employees are doing themselves and their staff a big favor.

Looked at a different way, isn't this similar to access control systems? They test credentials at the door and decide if you can come in or not. They are not perfect either.
But somehow, companies are using the technology everywhere.

For the sake of debate, I'm really interested in how our society and legal system will evolve now to accept AI, facial recognition and Temp Screening?

These are interesting times, Stay healthy out there.

I think we can all agree that this is not a perfect solution. It will at times have a false positive or maybe a false negative.

The problem right now is that it's more than simply being 'not a perfect solution'. Some of these are quite close to being scams. A lot of them are massively oversold.

And, this technology will be a tool in the arsenal in the prevention and spread of sickness.

It could be and I agree that we should not throw it out.

And some solutions are more advanced than others (Blackbody etc..)

Using a blackbody is actually less advanced as it uses the blackbody as a crunch and adds cost, complexity, and increased service issues. Not saying that blackbodies should be thrown out, just that it is clearly a crunch to deal with measurement issues.

Looked at a different way, isn't this similar to access control systems? They test credentials at the door and decide if you can come in or not. They are not perfect either.

Access control systems are quite mature and cost a fraction of the price.

Evan, I agree with your general implicit point that this could be something good for both users and for integrators but the rush right now is likely to lead to literally tens or hundreds of millions in wasted spending, as people buy in a rush.


Evan, I agree with your general implicit point that this could be something good for both users and for integrators but the rush right now is likely to lead to literally tens or hundreds of millions in wasted spending, as people buy in a rush.

To that point, we live in a high tech world where all new technologies are expensive as they enter the mainstream. Moore's-Law will double the technology and reduce the cost in time, but right now we have a real problem that we can solve.
I want to remind all of us that the reason we have collective work is for this vary reason. When cameras become like Ring Doorbells and Blink DIY cameras we are no longer providing value for our customers.

So couldn't I apply your point to every leading new technology that hits the market?
I.E. next years cameras will be much better at xxxx and therefore companies should wait until it's better next year?

Not being argumentative, really just taking a less skeptical / more positive view on what our industry is bringing to the party today.

So couldn't I apply your point to every leading new technology that hits the market?

No, these thermal systems have been around for many, many years, like 10 - 20. And you will see companies like FLIR be very conservative (see this new demo video) about how they position their thermal solutions here. What many new entrants are doing is ambulance chasing often with inferior technology (see the Athena debacle) and with crazy demonstrations (get a temperature on the back of someone's head while they are moving).

Thermal imaging is not like Moore's law (or at least like Moore's law used to be). There's not going to be any magic breakthrough in thermal imaging in 12 months.

What will help in a few months is that people will have more experience and knowledge about how to use these things. Up until 8 weeks ago, these systems were an extremely narrow niche and since then, a flood of companies have rushed in, generally uninformed, looking to make money off a gold rush.

I have heard numerous credible cases where companies, in a panic, are buying millions of dollars of these devices with little more than a day demo, that's likely to blow up in their face, once they realize the limitations.

don't you mean crutch?

Not only is this not a perfect solution it flat out doesn't work. At least not in the fashion it is being marketed and sold for. These companies are playing on fear, jacking up prices and selling a solution that will do nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19. In fact could make it worse by giving a false sense of security to those using one of the systems.

IMHO this will hurt the sale of this technology in the future when it actually might work. People will remember that they spend thousands on a BS system and be less likely to buy when the tech catches up to today's claims.

I just received an ADI promotional email on new products including a Dahua human Body Temperature Solution. It doesn't state Fever detection, but the timing is clear. When you click, there is almost no info. The next product down they list cheap WiFi doorbell cameras...

Thanks for posting that! I just got that email, too, and we're looking into it.

Could it be a very, very, very poor April Fools joke? Seriously though unless they have 250K already made good luck getting one.

Therm-App® MD - Opgal

Opgal is a respected player in the thermal imaging industry.

Is it possible to review this one? Or is there anyone who have tested and can provide some feedback?

The software runs on Android, and it works without a blackbody, which they claim is achieved by a 24 hour calibration process which is applied separately to each camera.

MSRP was USD2,000 3-weeks ago for small quantities. Last week it almost doubled...

They're already on the list to take a look at. I've reached out, but not heard back yet. I saw the calibration process as well. I believe they are looking at relative temperatures also, so comparing some known-good subjects (not feverish) to the measured temperatures of others. Hopefully we'll have some more information on them early next week!

Maybe I'm dumb or hardheaded but I just don't get it. I just don't get how there can be so much false jargon around using thermal technology for the intended purpose of virus detection or management.

Fever detection, elevated skin temp or whatever thermal tag you want to give it cannot do anything to detect a virus, detect an infected person nor prevent or even reduce the spread of a virus - any virus, or it would have been done a long time ago.

How long has influenza been killing people in orders of magnitude greater numbers?

I saw a comment about the deterrence factor. You want to deter people? Set up a queue with 10 foot separation and take their accurate body temperature one by one. Cost = the officers you're already paying for if a large facility. Cost = $100s to do the same thing in a small facility with high accuracy.

Do the same thing if you're after symptomatic carriers.

Good luck with the asymptomatic carriers.

Why do so many people especially manufactures post as Anonymous?

How disingenuous to hide behind your comments. I generally roll those off as much less important.

Some people are unable to give their genuine opinions on matters unless they post as anonymous because their employer forbids them to make public statements. Some people would rather their comments, thoughts and beliefs be weighed only by what they are and not by the company that they work for. Finally, some of us just don't need people seeing our names looking us up on LinkedIn and then trying to sell us everything under the planet because we work for a massive corporation as a video surveillance subject matter expert. Or maybe all 3.

Man, the more anonymous the comment, the higher the probability the comment is unfiltered honesty. Unfiltered honesty is a cornerstone of a good blog, technical, social, political, or otherwise.

By the way, all this stress lately has made my psoriasis flare up.

We have been through this discussion ad nauseam on IPVM basically since the start. Gist is undisclosed is perfectly OK if used for the right reasons.

Apparently the "right reasons" do not include being snarky and rude which is what I use it for! ;-)


if you work for a manufacturer in our industry and post here as a 'disclosed' poster with your name on it, you represent that manufacturer - whether that is your intention or not.

which means many manufacturer employees have no choice (if they want to share their own thoughts with other IPVM members) but to post their words as UDM#x.

also, keep in mind that John and (at least some of his) team know who UD posters are - and historically, do not allow manufacturer employees to post their own company-related biases without calling them out - while still allowing for manufacturer employees to post their true thoughts/beliefs outside of the stated policy of the company they work for.

like UDEU22 above, I think there is specific value in the words of UDM#x posts.

I noticed that SDS has jumped onboard and is distributing the Feevr systems. Anyone tested these or have data indicating any better or different performance than the others in this article?

Matt, thanks for your first comment! We have a profile on Feevr here and a test on the sensor they use, the FLIR Pro One here.

Net/net be very cautious about using that if you want accuracy. If you are looking for a low cost option, consider the Seek Scan Thermal Temperature System. We bought one of the Seek Scan units and it's scheduled to ship later this month. We will test it immediately once we receive.

Has IPVM looked at the ProFace X [TD] from ZKteco?

Hello Blaine:

ZKTeco demoed the US version of that product last week in our tradeshow. We just published their presentation: ZKTeco Presents SpeedFace Recognition + Body Temperature Detection.

If you have questions on the product, please ask in that post and we'll followup there.


Hello IPVM! Any intel on Wuhan Infrared Inc? Their lead times are short, price point is mid market ($15,800 USD) and marketing is pretty sophisticated. That being said, I couldn't get anyone on a call to discuss. I will send the emails I received to as well.

Thanks in advance!

I'd be suspicious of their accuracy. We'll take a look at them in more detail, but I have a couple of immediate concerns based on their marketing:

First, the quantity of people is concerning. Claiming to cover an area that wide without a managed traffic flow is questionable. You can see how much overlap there is in people here. It appears to be detecting them, as far as you can see, but it would be really easy to avoid detection in a crowd that large or simply be missed. They're suggesting 3-5m scene width and 2-8m distance, which is a very wide area.

Even if they can detect everyone in a scene that wide, having so many variables in the scene impacts temperature measurement. Sensors have more difficulty seeing very fine differences with that many varying temperatures in the scene. It's also simply harder to measure on the move, because it's hard to consistently measure from frame to frame due to the change in angle, movements of the head, etc.

Second, the blackbody is all the way in the back of the scene, but they're measuring people much further in front of it. I'd say some people in that scene are 10' in front of it. Blackbodies are intended to be used to provide reference at a specific distance, not to provide reference for a wide FOV like this. Subjects nearer or further will appear cooler or hotter. Some people who have been working in thermal measurement for 10+ years have told us that measured temperature drops of ~1°C per 1-2 meters are common.

They are claiming similar accuracy to others (NETD <40mK, ±0.3° accuracy), but I would not trust any claims of extreme throughput. Measuring fewer people at once in a more orderly line, with measurement taken at a fixed distance with the blackbody, is more fundamentally sound.

Anyone have idea on how the outside weather can affect human temperature? Say you park your car outside and walk to your facility and get scanned. Scan might say you have high fever or no fever (yet potentially have the virus)?

Arizona summer

Antarctic winter

All of the cameras require that a pedestrian wait inside for 5-15 minutes to come up to room temperature before being tested. It's one of the gotchas they put in fine print on the instructions.

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