Invisible Health Technologies on PBS News Tech Takeover

Invisible Health Technologies CEO Andrew Southern is interviewed by the PBS Philadelphia News Team about Mass Fever Detection Systems and Thermal Cameras.


Interest in thermal imaging is growing as COVID-19 rages on.

Tech takeover takes a closer look at the tech that detects fevers today. Tech takeover is taking a closer look at how thermal scanners and other technology are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Let’s say an office building, you know, or an aquarium. They are ready to reopen, but they want to safeguard the environment for their employees and their guests.

Andrew Southern runs Invisible Health Technologies in New York. He formed the group in April in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Southern’s company creates strategies for reopening large public spaces by using tech like thermal scanners to detect fevers.

“Basically these are like surveillance cameras, but they sense heat. And they’re able to see the wavelengths coming off of our skin. And it’s with that, that they’ll make an alert.”

Heat rating tools have been used since the beginning of the pandemic to screen people for fever, you’ve probably seen or used a handheld infrared thermometer as businesses across the country, reopened Southern says temperature scans are likely to become a new norm.

“There’s a couple of different setups. The most basic is a meter that sort of points of people. They have to stop and look into the camera, take off their glasses and they’ll do that for three or five seconds to get a reading. And then they get the all clear or there’s an alert above a certain level. And then there’s more advanced ones that allow you to just walk right through without stopping.”

If your temperature is above 100 degrees, you could be denied entry. Some say the scanners are a gateway to surveillance culture.In the name of public health interest, and especially in a pandemic, it’s easy to make the argument that whatever we’re doing is what we should be doing. And it makes sense to do because the greater good. That said, I think that we have to walk gingerly here because I’m not sure anyone knows really, if there’s a benefit to this or not. When you’re using a handheld though, in most cases, it’s not connected to some sort of server database that’s going to transmit that data. In other words, it’s going to stay local. In theory, it’s going between the person doing the, taking the temperature, if you will.

Southern says the scanners he buys operate in real time. Also noting that not all scanners store recordings for long periods of time, he believes large-scale thermal scanners will play a critical role in reopening the economy.

“We all understand now more than ever, you know, that our health in a public space can affect other people’s health and public spaces. And to that effect, we shouldn’t be going out. If we have a fever, if we have an elevated temperature, it may mean that we’re ill. It’s not the only thing to manage this pandemic or any other future pandemics, but it’s one of the tools that we have at our disposal”

Building entrance temperature checks will likely stick around for a while. Since March temperature, checker positions have opened at health networks and other companies around the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley region, you can find more tech takeover reports on