5G Connects Venues to Thermal Imaging

As COVID-19 changes the landscape of large events, shutting down or limiting most of them, businesses continue to check employee temperatures for fevers through technologies such as thermal imaging 

Zyter, a technology company that focuses on health care applications, has partnered with Verizon, one of America's leading 5G networks, to use thermal imaging to quickly take human body temperatures from a distance at large venues. 5G computing allows temperatures to be processed and returned for rapid alerts. 

Thermal imaging has existed for years, but it's being put into greater practice to identify possible fevers and increase safety for venue visitors.

The possibility of using thermal imaging cameras to quickly read employee, customer or guest temperatures at venues increases with technology from companies such as Zyter. 

Zyter and Verizon are working together to use low-latency 5G speeds to identify high-temperature individuals and quickly notify staff about the individuals. The system is intended to prevent the logjams of manual temperature checks and give event attendees increased security in their safety from potentially COVID-19-infected individuals.

What is thermal imaging?

Thermal imaging is a technology that uses radiation and infrared waves to view heat maps of bodies at a distance, typically human in the following research. 

Though thermal imaging does not give an exact temperature reading directly, the colors on the heat map correspond to a specific temperature range, allowing scientists and others to quickly analyze temperature.

a thermal image of a woman wearing a mask.

An example of a thermal image.

thermal imaging device is only a medical device depending on certain criteria, including being used by a health care professional in a health care setting or being considered a device for a designated purpose, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA also gives thorough recommendations for the use of thermal imaging devices to accurately read human body temperatures:

  • Placing the person being examined in a controlled environment, such as a room with restricted lighting and temperature, to avoid external influence on the temperature

  • Ensuring that the person being measured does not have hair or accessories that are blocking their forehead and raising their temperature and that the person has waited in a cool location to bring any natural temperature fluctuation back to normal

  • Using a test device to make sure that the thermal imaging device is properly calibrated

Thermal imaging research shows that temperature readings of multiple people at once are ineffective, according to the FDA. 

Thermal imaging became more commonly known when the COVID-19 pandemic required greater awareness of temperatures. Fever is one of the top two symptoms of the coronavirus, although many who have COVID-19 never experience a fever. Many businesses take employee temperatures with a thermometer, reading each temperature one by one.

a thermal imaging camera.

A picture of one type of thermal imaging camera.

Privacy concerns

Depending on how thermal imaging data is processed and stored, it's subject to regulation, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which includes individuals' medical data. 

If facial-recognition technology is used alongside temperature checks and any of that data is processed or stored, the GDPR applies, because that is an individual's personal medical data.

Thermal imaging in large venues, which Zyter and Verizon aim to accomplish, could also lead to legal and ethical issues, according to research from the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF). These concerns can arise because people in stadiums, subways or other large areas are being monitored and analyzed without their consent.

How Zyter thermal imaging works

Zyter ThermalAlert is a thermal imaging system designed to quickly take heat map temperature measurements in buildings and transportation. 

Zyter is designed to detect potential fever, a symptom of COVID-19, as effectively as possible. 

Zyter's cameras measure up to six people at the same time as they enter a building or other area. They measure temperatures between 86 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit and are not FDA-approved medical devices.

Venue use cases 

When Zyter's thermal imaging cameras read human body temperatures as people enter a venue, such as a stadium, Verizon's millimeter-wave, low-latency 5G servers quickly process temperature data and send it back to the stadium entrance. 

Then staff can be alerted almost immediately of people whose temperatures are too high.

Temperature readings by camera help decrease long lines of people waiting for a manual thermometer check; standing in such a line, not six feet apart, can be more of a hazard. Remote thermal imaging is a much faster method of analyzing temperatures. 

Because fevers are caused by many other physical conditions than the coronavirus and many people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, it's challenging to consistently and reliably assess a large group of people. 

Verizon and Zyter's partnership is intended to not only create a safer health environment but also to increase accuracy of identifying potentially dangerous fevers.

The technology, however, doesn't meet medical constraints for accurate temperature readings, regardless of 5G speeds, according to The Intercept.  As Zyter and Verizon's temperature-monitoring system does not meet FDA-recommended standards for thermal imaging, it could run the risk of being inaccurate as a result.

Zyter and Verizon's 5G thermal imaging technology can be applied in various venues:

  • Outdoor and indoor stadiums

  • Arenas

  • Concert halls

  • Large outdoor gatherings, such as parks

  • Subways, train stations and other public transportation hubs

Looking ahead

Thermal imaging provides a quick way to analyze human body temperatures without risking the dangers of a long queue and causing traffic jams. 

Zyter's ThermalAlert system, paired with Verizon's low-latency 5G, allows businesses to scan huge groups of people by identifying high temperatures and alerting staff almost instantly.

Zyter's cameras are not FDA-approved as medical devices, nor does their system use thermal imaging best practices for ideal temperatures. The legal and physical effects of thermal imaging analytics are also not yet fully known. 

Yet, for organizations easing back into large events, Zyter and Verizon's partnership provides one method of managing temperature checks quickly and offering greater peace of mind to visitors.

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Verizon, thermal imaging, 5G, 5G network, Covid-19, temperature