September 28, 2020

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New AI-powered temperature screening system to improve efficiency

On February 12, 2020, the 2019 novel coronavirus had been renamed to COVID-19. Countries have stepped up efforts in monitoring and controlling the spread of the virus.

Singapore has especially been on high alert by implementing regulatory measures such as temperature screenings at schools and office buildings and mandatory leave of absence (LOA) for returning Singapore Citizens, PRs and long-term visa holders.

With these stepped-up efforts, technology is harboured to enable the more efficient facilitation of these processes. A new temperature screening system engineered by the Integrated Health Information System (IHiS) and healthcare technology company Kronikare, allows for temperature screening at office buildings to be five times faster.

This new artificial intelligence-powered system, called iThermo, is able to screen the temperatures of eight to 10 people per minute. The current process of manual screening is only able to screen two to three people at a time, with each reading taking about 20 to 30 seconds.

The development of iThermo is based on the healthcare tech company’s wound scanner technology. The iThermo was created within two weeks and has since been on trial, since Monday, at the IHiS headquarters and the St Andrew’s Community Hospital.

With office buildings implementing the temperature taking exercise as a safety measure, this has resulted in long queues forming outside of office buildings. Some places, such as Suntec City, were reported to have queues lasting for as long 40 minutes.

The benefits brought about by iThermo include the shortened time for screening and manpower strength. It is also serving as a cheaper option and is more portable-friendly than the advanced screeners stationed at airports. With its size and weight of 650g, this allows for the easy deployment of at locations such as the entrance of office buildings and shopping malls.

Measuring 25cm by 12cm by 5cm in size, iThermo is made up of a smartphone camera, a thermal camera, and a laser camera which can be all mounted on a stand. The three cameras operate together to screen and record the body temperature of an individual. They will be positioned at a distance and measure the surrounding temperature as well.

iThermo has the capability to screen individuals from a distance of 1m to 3m of the scanner. Those wearing hats, surgical masks and spectacles can also be screened.

Individuals with a fever are identified by the system indicating a higher-pitched sound while those with regular temperatures will have a low beep, indicating that the temperature has been recorded.

It was found during the proof-of-concept stage that the system has a 100 per cent accuracy in screening patients with body temperatures above 37.3 degrees, as compared to the forehead thermometers.

The Health Sciences Authority has awarded the system with a Class A certification and production efforts of the iThermo have been stepped up since.