Infrared Cameras Could Be the New CCTV
Employers rush to thermal imaging to catch sick workers
Thermal imaging company FLIR found itself in a rut this February. The company reported lower revenue than expected for the fourth quarter of 2019, causing a sell-off that cratered its stock by nearly 60%.
But that was before the coronavirus shut down the U.S. economy.
Now, Amazon is installing real-time thermal imaging in its fulfillment centers to screen workers. That’s prompting Wall Street speculation of thermal imaging companies like FLIR, which has seen its stock jump nearly 20% in recent days. The company says it has also been seeing a jump in demand in past weeks.
“We’ve clearly seen a significant spike in interest for thermal cameras for this mission,” says Ezra Merrill, director of marketing for FLIR. “Everywhere you look, people are trying to find how best to provide safety for those in the workforce, those who are traveling, people who are going into stores.”
Companies like Amazon, casinos, and supermarkets are adopting thermal cameras to help identify sick workers and customers at scale. Thermal cameras able to accurately detect body temperature like the ones developed by FLIR have been around for 20 years and have seen similar demand cycles before.
Merrill says that interest in thermal cameras capable of detecting elevated body temperatures has surged a few times since the company’s investment into the technology in 2003, notably during the outbreaks of SARS, H1N1, and Ebola.
“We’ve clearly seen a significant spike in interest for thermal cameras for this mission.”
Gary Strahan, founder of Infrared Cameras Inc., told The Telegraph that there’s typically a surge in demand for thermal imaging around disease outbreaks.
But the ambiguous timeline and scale of the current coronavirus pandemic might mean that the technology could experience sustained interest and maybe even become a new normal in shops and public spaces.
“I believe you are going to see infrared cameras become as common as CCTV,” Strahan said.