With the government opening several sectors in the fourth installment of COVID-19 lockdown there will be an increased movement of people leading to a greater danger of community transmission. Now is the time for rigorous screening, not just at the entrances of hospitals, but at all workplaces, shopping malls and market places too, to identify the infected and quarantine them immediately.
Rising to the occasion is Niramai, a deep-tech start-up with expertise in thermal imaging and artificial intelligence (AI), which has developed an Automated FeverTest for COVID screening. Significantly, the screening involves not just recording body temperature, but also identifying respiratory abnormalities using a special Thermalytix technology.
As of now, in India, thermal screening is done using an infrared forehead thermometer on an individual.
Though widely used, it is not only prone to the risk of cross-contamination and manual error, but cannot also be used for screening large populations.
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Niramai’s Automated FeverTest for COVID screening involves remotely-placed, contactless FLIR infrared cameras that can measure temperatures of a number of people at one go with no chance of cross-contamination. It also performs face detection in the thermal stream, which means sending snapshots of people detected with fever cases to the authorities so that such cases can be isolated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Since we already had a good experience in thermal imaging and AI, we were able to develop the first prototype pretty quickly after the lockdown began, though we had to import the thermal cameras. Now we have added more useful features to the tool and can ensure correct screening despite weather conditions and usage context,” says Niramai CEO & CTO Geetha Manjunath.
“The suspected patients can also be subjected to Respiratory Rate Measurement AI-algorithm to confirm abnormal respiratory conditions using our tool before sending them to a full COVID-19 diagnosis,” says Manjunath, adding that FeverTest was pilot-tested during the lockdown period at several corporate and government offices, and containment zones for mass screening.
“We have already installed the facility at Bengaluru DCP office; and have got interest from Maharashtra, Delhi, and Hyderabad. When deployed at the entrances of offices or public places, our goal is not to miss any symptomatic people with high temperature or respiratory issues, unless of course, the person tricks it by taking fever medicine,” informs Manjunath.