Houston company using hi-tech cameras to detect COVID-19 symptoms as schools reopen

ByChris Nocera KTRK logo
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Houston company develops thermal imager to help schools
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Watch video to see how thermal imaging can detect a fever in a person.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As schools in Texas begin to open virtually, some districts will have plans to open brick and mortar in the near future. When that happens, parents are wondering if their children will be safe. From wearing masks to social distancing, there will be a number of guidelines to follow. That's why a local Houston company is offering a solution to help streamline temperature checks.

This school year, there are many concerns from parents.

"We want our kids back in school, but we're concerned for the safety of our teachers. And we're concerned for the safety of our kids" parent, Tish Ochoa shared with us.

As schools explore options to open during the pandemic, health and safety is a priority. NCS Security Division Manager, David Jones says their company is looking to provide assistance for schools that are conducting temperature screenings. Instead of checking students and faculty one by one as they enter the building, they can do it in groups.

"You're able to have as many as 16 to 20 pass through at one time" Jones said.

Their thermal imaging camera will be able to detect anyone walking in that may be running a fever.

"Less than a half a degree of accuracy on that, once they enter that field of view, it's detecting that individual in 30 milliseconds" Jones added.

NCS demonstrated the system by sending a group of employees through the thermal camera's field of vision. If the temperature reading is normal, a green box appeared on the screen, along with body temperature.

To show how the system detects someone with a fever, they used a water bottle with hot water to trigger an alert. Holding It over the forehead, a red box was displayed on the screen, followed by an audible alert.

Some parents are on board with this idea.

"I think that it's great. I know that our school nurse, she is not going to be able to temperature check 600 kids every day" Ochoa said.

"I think this could be a positive thing. My concern would be who's going to pay for it" Nhi Phan added.

However, others have concerns about cheating the system.

"You can take acetaminophen or any sort of a fever reducer and it'll mask a fever as you enter" parent, Swati Narayan shared with us.

While that's a valid concern, Jones says this is not the end-all, be-all solution to the problem. He says it's just giving schools an added tool in the toolbox for safety.

NCS is working with a few local districts now to get these installed. The thermal imaging detection system starts around $7,500. Besides schools, it could be useful in other public areas like office buildings or airports.