Vodafone UK launches IoT heat sensing tech to help with coronavirus fight

UK operator Vodafone has launched a connected heat detection camera that can be used to screen people for potential COVID-19 infection.

The camera has been developed in partnership with Digital Barriers, can apparently screen the body temperature of 100 people per minute and claims to be accurate to within around half a degree Celsius. One of the main symptoms of coronavirus infection is an increased body temperature, so this sort of technology is being seriously considered as a relatively efficient way of screening large numbers of people.

“The Heat Detection Camera brings together Vodafone’s expertise in IoT with innovative technology and a secure managed service to create an enterprise-grade solution that protects employees and front-of-house staff,” said Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty. “Our IoT network can connect many cameras quickly and without disruption in almost any location; and our ongoing partnership with Digital Barriers provides reassurance that the underlying software and hardware is engineered to the highest standards.”

“This Heat Detection Camera has been designed to help companies safeguard staff and customers, reopen facilities and get back to work safely,” said Zak Doffman, CEO of Digital Barriers. “The solution combines class-leading temperature screening with highly secure remote access and alerts. Partnering with Vodafone UK to bring this to market will ensure it is widely available and supported by a world-class IoT network and managed services operation.”

This tech is far from being a silver bullet, however. A fever is only a degree or so above normal human body temperature, so the half-degree margin for error is significant. Then, of course, you have the fact that there are many causes other than COVID-19 for an elevated temperature. Lastly we have the civil liberties concerns that are likely to increase as society slowly begins to return to normal. How will be police the detention of anyone with a bit of a temperature? Heat sensing technology will probably be useful, but only as part of a broader package of screening measures.