Brisbane-based company Bigmate has announced the commercial availability of a technology which enables businesses to pre-screen for higher skin temperatures as workers enter or leave buildings. 

The thermal screening tool, known as “Thermy” uses thermal cameras and advanced analytics to analyse skin temperature, automatically sending an alert when it detects an elevated temperature. 

Temperature checking has emerged as a tool in the fight against the spread of coronavirus and is likely to play a greater role as communities try to strike a balance between public safety and easing lockdown restrictions. For example, in China a Starbucks employee checks a customer’s temperature when they arrive to pick up their coffee as part of a “contactless experience” the coffee company rolled out. While Disney boss Bob Iger said parks like Disneyland could reopen with extra restrictions, comparing temperature checks to bag checks. 

The Thermy product was 90 per cent complete and scheduled to launch later this year when the company decided to realign its engineering resources and launch the product as soon as possible in response to the crisis. 

Bigmate’s managing director Mark Shield says that there has been “significant interest” in the product since it was unveiled earlier this month and the company is in discussions with mining companies, industrial logistics organisations and businesses that rely on people coming to a site every day.

“The world was turned upside down four weeks ago and there are lots of organisations that rely on people coming to site,” Shield told Which-50. 

“If you look historically, influenza and those sort of things are a productivity killer onsite. Currently it’s COVID-19. So organisations are looking for technology to be able to help the overall solution and we’ve had significant interest right across the board.” 

While the technology can assist businesses with their current challenge to keep their workforces safe, Shield stressed the system is not intended to be a medical device. 

“It is observational technology but it is designed to play a critical role in helping organisations speed up their ability to protect workers and their families in the fight against highly contagious virus outbreaks such as COVID-19, the everyday day flu and beyond,” said Shield.

Computer vision 

Founded in 1996, Bigmate develops critical risk management solutions to keep industrial workers safe. Its early products used telematics to monitor worker safety and driver behaviour, however three years ago the technology business began developing computer vision applications. 

Warny technology uses CCTV footage to determine when the forklift is too close to humans.

Thermy is based on Bigmate’s “Warny” solution, which uses computer vision algorithms to protect people working around dangerous machines, such as forklifts, trucks or industrial cutting machines. Warny is used by some of Australia’s leading industrial companies to detect instances of spontaneous combustion of materials, overheating of equipment and fires in the workplace.

“The technology we’ve been developing over the last couple of years is very robust. Those Warny boxes are in industrial sites right across the country now. From that base technology we were able to add different applications,” Shield said. 

One of the ways in which Thermy logically extends Warny’s capabilities is by using thermal cameras, providing real time information through dashboards, hosted in Australia on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for remote viewing and trend analysis. 

The plug and play solution was designed to be an affordable and scalable solution that large and small organisations can implement easily. The company says it could be used in a wide range of facilities, including factories, territorial borders, warehouses, government and private offices, and any location where people are moving through entrances and walkways.

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