As state and federal authorities deliberate over how to safely reopen U.S. society during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, tools that effectively monitor body temperature at a population level could help to get the ball rolling. To that end, software development firm Altoros Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., has released the Fever Screener, a fully automated, enterprise-grade system for setting up temperature scanning checkpoints.

Fever is one of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus, affecting 87.9% of people infected with COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization. Remotely monitoring public spaces for early signs of disease and tracking identified cases could prove beneficial in protecting the public and taking some of the load off health care workers.

“While health care workers are putting their lives at risk to treat and save patients, we can also do our part in minimizing the spread of the infection,” said Renat Khasanshyn, Altoros’ CEO. “With Fever Screener, we help to ensure that preventive measures are made properly, reducing the burden on the medical staff.”

Screens 30 people simultaneously

The contactless Fever Screener can scan up to 30 people simultaneously at a distance of 3 meters, or nearly 10 feet, with a temperature accuracy of roughly 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.3° C). Installed in entryways, checkpoints or other crowded venues, it can provide mass screenings, as well as recurrent temperature monitoring for potentially infected individuals.

Fever Screener. Credit: Altoros Inc.

Key components of the Fever Screener include a dual thermal/video camera and an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered module for temperature analysis. The thermal camera provides real-time temperature readings in the targeted area, displaying new data in less than one second. The video component uses AI algorithms to recognize human faces, even those obscured by masks, headwear or glasses.

The AI module homes in on potentially infected individuals and identifies a point on the face to measure temperature, reducing analysis of healthy individuals.

“Unlike alternatives, Altoros’ product identifies objects that are not faces, such as coffee cups, and excludes them from triggering an alert/alarm,” Khasanshyn told BioWorld. “Imagine if you had to respond to 10 alerts, nine of which are false. … Would you treat alert #1 with urgency, knowing that this alert is 95% likely to be false?”

Instant alerts

If an individual’s body temperature is high, the device provides instant mobile or desktop alerts to specified recipients, with photos, thermal readings and geolocation points. The reporting system can be customized to trigger audible alerts at regular intervals, such as daily or weekly, to aid in tracking possible COVID-19 cases.

In addition to the camera and AI module, the system includes a processing box with cloud data storage and a web-based user management user interface. Khasanshyn said videos and photos are automatically deleted in real time, except for pictures of people with high temperatures. Those are stored in a secure cloud account and deleted at a time set by the user, such as 24 hours.

Altoros is targeting Fever Screener at a number of fields – including health care, transportation (think airports, trains and subways), food, retail, schools and banks – and sees its use in monitoring the spread of other emerging respiratory viruses beyond COVID-19.

New capabilities coming

“First shipments begin next week” in North America and the EU, Khasanshyn said, citing the high demand for the device. He said stocks of thermal cameras are “at historic lows worldwide, and we are battling with suppliers to lock the stock and ship ASAP.”

The price point for the hardware (cameras and router) and first-year software subscription is $13,800, per checkpoint, with software renewals costing $1,300 per year. “Customers can select an option to ‘bring your own’ cloud storage accounts if their specific security/regulatory requirements mandate, for example, storage of data within [the] boundaries of a specific country,” he said. The system supports AWS and Microsoft Azure for cloud storage, with no limit on the number of users or alerts.

The company is working to add additional capabilities, such as detecting coughs, another COVID-19 symptom, using sensors to analyze sounds. “We plan to begin shipping cough detection and smell testing kits by the second week of May, for random testing at checkpoints and follow-on testing on those with [a] high temperature,” Khasanshyn said.

“This product is only the first in a suite of products, which together could allow businesses to reopen and get customers back,” he added. “The next product to be released is an autonomous robot, which performs disinfection in offices, restaurants, gyms, retail stores and places providing public service, such as public transportation. We are in this together with our customers.”

Others remote monitoring solutions

Other companies are looking at ways to remotely monitor groups of people and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Earlier this month, Flir Systems Inc., of Wilsonville, Ore., announced the launch of its A400/A700 thermal sensor device for industrial monitoring and elevated skin temperature screening. China-based KC Wearable also is monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms with a smart helmet that quickly screens up to 13 individuals at once – with the potential to screen 200 people per minute.

Also eyeing the space is Zurich-based startup Ava Science Inc., which recently issued a call for partners and funding to explore the use of its fertility wearable during the pandemic. Designed to provide highly accurate temperature readings to women monitoring their reproductive cycles, the Ava Bracelet could prove useful in tracking high temperatures due to the coronavirus.

And in Hong Kong, Boston-based Biofourmis Inc. is leveraging its AI-fueled remote monitoring platform to monitor patients diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19. The remote monitoring and disease performance program, which is being administered by the University of Hong Kong and includes Biofourmis’ Hong Kong-based joint venture, Harmony Medical Inc., aims to monitor quarantined patients with suspected COVID-19 and detect signs of progression, as well as glean information on how the virus affects the body.

Meanwhile, Lifesignals Group Inc., of Fremont, Calif., revealed recently that it is fast-tracking the launch of its Patient Management Biosensor Patch 2A. The single-use, wireless device can be worn up for up to five days to detect and monitor coronavirus symptoms.