Company supported by FAPESP is developing a smart visible and thermal spectrum imaging system to spot people with fever in schools, malls or offices (photo: Opto Space & Defense)

Military technologies to be adapted for fever detection in crowded places to combat COVID-19

26 de maio de 2020

By Eduardo Geraque  |  FAPESP Innovative R&D – A monocular thermal scope developed for the Brazilian armed forces and a system that captures different wavelengths normally used by armored vehicle drivers in the army are being converted into a tool for combating COVID-19.

Currently sold for military purposes by Brazilian firm Opto Space & Defense, the technologies are being integrated and upgraded for use as a fever detection system in crowded areas.

The project is supported by FAPESP’s Innovative Research in Small Business program (PIPE). It was one of the first six selected in a call for proposals issued by PIPE-FAPESP in partnership with FINEP, the Brazilian government’s innovation agency, and aiming to fast-track the development of products, services and processes to combat COVID-19 by tech startups and small businesses in the state of São Paulo.

The firm expects a prototype of the system to be ready in June and plans to complete its development within months. “We’re developing a smart imaging system in the visible and thermal spectra that will process data to identify people with fever [one of the main symptoms of COVID-19] in crowded places such as offices, schools, gyms and malls,” Raphael Pereira Moreno, principal investigator for the project, told FAPESP Innovative R&D.

According to Moreno, the fever detection system will be based on a thermal camera that will scan moving individuals at a distance of up to 12 meters. The on-board software pinpoints the appropriate points at which to measure body temperature, especially the eyes and cheeks, instantly processing the data. If a person with fever is detected, local security personnel will be alerted by means of a warning light, buzzer or other kind of signal.

The face of a person with a high temperature detected by the system can be viewed by the operator on a conventional monitor.

“Depending on the customer’s requirements, detection can be linked to a security mechanism such as blocking an access turnstile,” Moreno said, adding that the system’s sensors can be adjusted for a temperature range, for example, between 35 °C and 44 °C.

Incremental development

The fever detection system will be built incrementally on defense technologies involving sensors and multispectral cameras that have been produced for over a decade by the firm based in São Carlos, state of São Paulo.

Founded in 1985 as a division of Opto Eletrônica SA, Opto Space & Defense has been part of Akaer Group since 2017.

Opto has operated in Brazil and abroad for over 30 years. It has a technical staff of 40 and specializes in designing and fabricating highly complex optronics, including precision optical components, highly reliable electronic systems, fine mechanics, and systems engineering. Some of these were developed as projects supported by PIPE-FAPESP.

The firm also has an aerospace product line, with high-resolution cameras for satellites and multispectral imaging systems.

“We’re now going to calibrate the systems we already have, develop a portable cabinet for camera installation, and optimize the algorithms that will do the readings,” Moreno said.

In addition to adaptation of the technologies, which are military and must be simplified for civilian use, other goals of the project include bringing to market a user-friendly portable product with a dedicated power source.