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“COVID-19” Thermal Cameras Start to Hit the Marketplace
Elevated body temperature detection cameras are hitting the market like a Texas tornado, and the market for “COVID-19” may be worth billions of dollars this year. It is certainly the fastest growing segment in the security industry today.
So, what happens when the pandemic is over, provided it does end this year? Currently, the physical products that we all know, such as video surveillance cameras, are on a somewhat downward spiral, meaning there is a downward sales pressure on camera manufacturers.
It seems that camera manufacturers who can respond to the “fever camera” demand can put themselves in an enviable position of a long-term win over the next year or so. Who wins, who loses?
Hanwha Techwin has confirmed that they are entering this market, and they are developing a temperature detection camera that is expected to make its debut later this year. Hanwha Techwin is using its thermal imaging technology that will be able to detect body temperature, company officials said.
“We believe that body temperature detection cameras and other technology will play an important role in the future,” said Miguel Lazatin, senior director of marketing at Hanwha Techwin America.
Timing and specifications have yet to be determined. Hanwha Techwin could easily make this a sizable opportunity for the company, depending upon time to market for its product. The release date is scheduled for Q4 this year. Prices for such equipment are yet to be determined.
Axis has an extensive global network of development partners, of which they are working independently on applications that integrate with Axis products. The company does have some cameras that offer precise temperature measurements, but they are not a type of thermal camera that could be considered a medical-grade solution.
According to Scott Dunn, the senior director of business development, solutions and services at Axis, said the company is not jumping into the thermal camera fray because Axis cameras are not designed for the specific use of human fever temperature detection, nor are they intended for diagnosis, mitigation or prevention in the determination of disease.
Dunn added that although FDA guidelines have been suspended for the time being, certification of cameras has also been suspended. Another factor, or cause for concern, is that scanning a crowd of people would be challenged by numerous environmental factors. Could an end-user be assured that the solution would do as advertised?
“We don’t chase after the market,” Dunn said. “We like to take our time, rather than make a quick decision, and ensure that the technology that we are offering stands the test of time."
Why such a demand for a product like this? How long will the demand last? Buyers want to return to work and by implementing a “fever camera,” some believe businesses can open, school classrooms can be filled again, and shopping can start anew. The question remains if implementing these cameras will build confidence.
Given the fact that businesses are losing thousands of dollars in revenue, the “fever camera” seems to be a means to restore trust and confidence, and may be a reason to drive a decision.
Reuters is reporting that FLIR has seen "exponential increase in demand,” said Frank Pennisi, president of the FLIR industrial business unit. He also said the company is "having to prioritize hospitals and medical facilities.” FLIR is having difficulty meeting demand, frequently with one to two month backorders for these products.
Thermoteknix (United Kingdom) saw first quarter sales triple this year.
Ogpal (Israel) adjusted an industrial camera for fever detection and has sold 1,000 units in two months, more than the original model sold during seven years of existence, according to Reuters.
Mobotix says its thermal camera sales were up 175 percent year-on-year in April, and projected to be up "well over 300 percent" in May, thanks to deals with government, hospitals, educational institutions and retailers. "Most projects are either large scale multi site deployments 2-300+ devices [or] up to 1,000 for single sites across government building, healthcare and any public locations where gatherings or people could interact. A more tiered approach to scale and test the solution, environment & install before large deployments.”
Dahua Security has already released thermal temperature solutions to the market already. the price point for the entire system is about $21,000.
“The Dahua Thermal Temperature Monitoring Solution combines the latest hybrid thermal network camera, a blackbody calibration device, and an NVR with Facial Recognition to monitor temperatures within large groups of people at a distance,” said Tim Shen, director of marketing at Dahua Security. “This solution delivers contactless and continuous non-invasive detection of elevated skin temperatures. Accurate temperature monitoring can reduce false positives, minimizing the number of people sent to secondary inspection, reducing manpower requirements and improving personnel safety.”
How are end-users taking advantage of thermal camera solutions? Here are just a few examples:
Tyson Foods is the largest meat producer in the United States, and has installed 150 thermal scanners in its meat processing facilities.
Amazon is deploying thermal cameras in its U.S. warehouses; units are not known but Amazon has at least 110 warehouses in the United States, and more than 185 facilities worldwide.
Carnival Cruise Lines has ordered fever screening cameras from ICI to screen passengers and crew.
Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said Sunday that the Las Vegas Strip could reopen late next month with extensive safety measures in place, including thermal cameras and social distancing requirements at the company’s hotels. Points of entry will be limited to allow the Wynn Resorts’ security team to conduct noninvasive temperature checks using thermal cameras. Anyone displaying a temperature over 100.0°Ff will be taken to a private area for a secondary temporal temperature screening. Employees or guests confirmed to have a temperature over 100.0°F will not be allowed entry to the property and will be directed towards appropriate medical care.
The prospects of a “fever camera” overtaking the CCTV market seem slim. Sales are dependent upon the prospect of COVID-19 lingering throughout 2020. Scientists and medical staff are determined that this will not happen. Of course, no one knows if there is a marketplace for this type of solution going forward. The question remains if the New Normal is actually business as usual.
People are anxious to get back to work, but will businesses insist on employees not coming to work with a high human temperature, and stop a person from entering a building. Tried and true, time will tell.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.