The COVID-19 virus outbreak is turning the world upside down. Health, stock market, oil, entertainment— everything is changing. But one field that is suffering the most is the aviation industry. Social distancing had led to empty airports and empty flights. Today as of May 2020— the demand for travel is almost close to zero. But there are some exceptions…
Taiwan has managed to keep their airports open and successfully slow down the spread of the virus. After feeling threatened by the old SARS virus in 2002, the health officials at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, deployed thermal imaging to spot potential SARS virus carriers. Today, and by default, Taiwan used the pre-existing strict measures and AI-based temperature monitoring solutions, as COVID-19 developed. They were able to quickly spot travelers that were COVID-19 virus carriers, before entering into the country.
In this solution brief, we’ll go over the main challenges faced by airports (and other points of entry) to keep the social distance among travelers and help avoid the COVID-19 spread. At airports, TSA checkpoints can benefit from high-resolution thermal cameras and compute-intensive analytics computers such as the LEC-2290, to capture infrared images of passengers and screen for high fevers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, governments started to implement regulations to limit the spread of the virus. For example, in some countries like China, Thailand, and the United States, it is now compulsory to wear a mask on airport terminals, and sometimes on the aircraft.
One of the best solutions which helped so far in airports and on other points of entry is making sure everybody is screened for COVID-19 symptoms before departure.
For example, South Korea requires temperature screening for every passenger and additional checks for international passengers. Indonesia also requires checking the passengers’ temperature while traveling on the aircraft and at least 30 minutes before landing.
At airports, social distancing must be encouraged by reorganizing airline booths and other infrastructure. But the only crucial point in an airport is the TSA security checkpoint.
TSA agents are usually close to passengers. They need to check IDs, passports, and go through regular safety procedures, such as screen passengers, bags, and cargo. Additionally, TSA agents need to monitor safety measures and maintain efficient passenger traffic flows.
When temperature screening was included in their lists of security measures, things started to complicate. Using handheld thermometers to measure the temperature of every individual passenger is challenging.
- They need to have more manpower screening for fevers.
- Screening with handheld thermometers puts those additional workers at a higher risk.
- High-density environments are prone to higher contagion.
- Manual screening is laborious. It may create bottlenecks at airports (points of entry) and long waiting lines.
TSA temperature scans might be the key to putting the aviation industry back on its feet. Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, said to the CBS news, “We are urging the TSA to begin temperature scans, as part of the screening process at checkpoints”.
Fever screening wasn’t a pre-boarding regulation, probably only in some countries. But as everything gets back on its feet, post-COVID-19, fever screening will be the new norm.
The Fever Screening Solution
Before the COVID-19 even existed, some countries, such as Taiwan, already had thermal screening technology to detect passengers traveling with high fevers and potentially carrying diseases like SARS, swine flu, or influenza.
As soon as countries saw the Coronavirus spreading like wildfire, they started to implement strict regulations and technology such as AI-based thermal detection systems.
How Airports Perform Thermal Screening?
Stand-alone thermal imaging technology is the preferred solution for airports (and other points of entry) because it eliminates physical contact, processes passengers’ imaging data fast and precise, and does not require any additional workers.
How does it work?
The fever screening solution needs to provide the following flow of functions: Capture imaging data > Process it > Analyze it > and Act on it.
The solution needs the following set of components to accomplish this flow of functions.
- Thermal Cameras. They capture imaging data.
- Compute-intensive video analytics computer. Process and analyze imaging data. This part of the solutions runs a computer vision algorithm.
- Monitor or actuator. The results of the computer are sent to a monitor or an actuator such as, an alarm.
Thermal cameras replace the inefficient handheld thermometer. These cameras are also known as thermographic devices that create an image using infrared radiation. They can detect sensitive wavelengths and convert them into high-quality images.
When these thermal imaging cameras are fixed at points of entry, in airports, train stations, warehouses, etc., they can screen people passing by and capture their body temperature.
Compute-intensive Thermal Imaging Analytics Computer
But thermography data taken by these cameras is useless unless it is processed and analyzed.
Lanner’s LEC-2290 box is an embedded computer specially built for intelligent edge computing applications like compute-intensive video analytics. LEC-2290’s computing capacity can be expanded by GPUs to do video processing and its CPU to execute computer vision algorithms.
This industrial embedded computer is key to the exact process and analysis of the thermography data from a large number of subjects.
LEC-2290 key Features:
- GPU and expansion. Includes Intel® UHD Graphics 630 to provide high graphics performance when matched with Intel Core i7 processors. LEC-2290 also supports GPU expansion.
- Powerful CPU. Based on Intel CoreTM i7-8700T/i7-8700, for higher energy efficiency and to run applications faster. LEC-2290’ architecture of CPU and GPU decreases the application execution time and thermal imaging output.
- Availability of fast memory and storage — 2x DDR4 2133/2400 SO-DIMM, Max. 32GB. These allow the compute units (CPU/GPU) to change quickly between thermal image processing to execution. Fast memory/storage allows quick data transfers so the entire thermal detection system can be faster.
- Support for Intel’s OpenVINO toolkit and the Movidius inferencing engine. OpenVINO is Intel’s toolkit that allows quick development of applications that emulate the human eye. The Movidius is a Vision Processing Unit (VPU) with deep learning capabilities that can be used to implement AI at the edge.
LEC-2290 can run a variety of computer vision algorithms to improve the AI-based temperature monitoring solution. Depending on the software, the embedded computer can perform thermal interfacing to a large number of subjects, accurately, and at a high rate.
Monitor or Alarm
The third component of the thermal imaging solution is the user interface. A monitor can help a worker, such as a TSA agent, track the computer vision application’s outcome. The monitor would show the captured, processed, and analyzed imaging data of the thermal detection system.
Depending on the computer vision algorithm, the monitor can show the temperature of each moving subject and raise the alarm if the temperature is outside regular 36.5°C to 37°C parameters.
The best we can get from a fever screening solution is to help control the spread of highly contagious diseases. For now, it is a great option to aid avoid the continuous outbreak of the COVID-19, and for the future, it will serve as a firewall for novel diseases.
It Provides Safety for Workers Measuring Body Temperature
Monitoring temperature at a safe distance lowers the risk of the COVID-19 infection from both parties, the measured and the measuring. Also, it requires fewer workers. A single agent can be checking the monitor for abnormal temperatures or even only be aware of the autonomous system-generated alarms.
It Helps Avoid Crowded Areas by Easing Up the Flow of People
This AI-based temperature monitoring solution can process and analyze large sets of imaging data at high speeds. Screening for fever with this thermal detection system takes only a few seconds and can perform for a massive flow of moving subjects. Getting faster and more accurate, results in a faster flow of people entering public places or private facilities.
It Promotes Intelligent Healthcare and Travel
If applied correctly, technological advancements will help avoid future diseases. Smart Cities in 2020 are now a reality, and intelligent healthcare and travel will be among its most crucial areas of development. Thermal imaging solutions can help promote intelligent cities by integrating with other systems such as the Automated Passport Control (APC) in airports. An extreme example, but which could lead the way, is how they are monitoring fever in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus. They equipped drones with portable thermal cameras to capture temperature from the sky.
The AI-based temperature monitoring solution helps identify people with the fever, which is a common symptom of the COVID-19 virus. As various subjects enter areas, such as ports (airports, borders, etc.), or retail shops, office buildings, etc., the solution screens their temperature automatically. It helps segregate travelers or any people going through gates suspected of having a high fever.
A key component in this solution is the LEC-2290 embedded PC, which is a compute-intensive analytics performer. It takes the imaging data from thermal infrared cameras, processes it, and analyzes it with machine vision algorithms to discover insights.
Screening potential patients for the fever will help stop the COVID-19 spread. It has already been proven in some key airports.
For more information on LEC-2290, please contact us.