In Just 6 Months, ‘Fever Cameras’ Have Become a Full-Fledged Industry
More than 150 companies now sell alleged fever-detecting technology aimed at the coronavirus
In October 2016, a Shenzen-based video surveillance company called Sunell set up an experiment: It installed thermal cameras and facial recognition in the entrances of six schools in northern Beijing.
Students who entered would have their faces recorded for facial recognition, and their temperatures taken by thermal imaging. While initial accuracy wasn’t up to par, the company refined its technology over the next year. And then it started to expand its services.
Sunell added more schools (and prisons) to its roster of clients, eventually snagging a contract for all schools in the Anning District of Lanzhou City in 2018. To date, the company claims it has detected the temperatures of 6.86 million students.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be a huge opportunity for Sunell. The company has publicized 20 new installations of its fever detection technology in Chinese schools since March. And Sunell has now started to resell its technology to at least 19 other companies, according to a list compiled by video surveillance trade outlet IPVM.
To date, the company claims it has detected the temperatures of 6.86 million students.
As much of the world adapts to a new normal after the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, and the United States still struggles to rein in rampant cases, the thermal imaging industry is pitching itself as a crucial part of reopening efforts.
There are now 170 companies selling fever detection technology meant to detect people potentially suffering from the coronavirus, up from fewer than 30 companies selling similar technology before the pandemic, according to the IPVM list.
Many of these companies are reselling thermal cameras from larger firms and adding their own fever-detecting software or algorithms, or simply packaging cameras and computers as a ready-to-operate screening station. The biggest manufacturers are Sunell, FLIR, Dahua, Hikvision, TVT, and YCX — all Chinese except for FLIR, an a…