[WCSA] Daily Highlights – May 20, 2020 - Police in China, Dubai, and Italy are using these surveillance helmets to scan people for COVID-19 fever as they walk past and it may be our future normal


(Wcsa.world) A law enforcement officer wearing the helmet could do any of the following: Measure the temperature of a specific individual; measure the temperatures of people passing by in larger crowds; scan a person’s QR code for personal data; recognize license plates; spot people in the dark; or recognize people using facial recognition.

Any information captured is stored on the helmet itself, the company says.

According to KC Wearable’s global chief, Dr Jie Guo, more than 1,000 helmets are already in use across China. One unnamed country, she said, has ordered hundreds of helmets and more international deals are coming. The helmets cost between $5,000 to $7,000 per unit.

She added that customers put in early orders for samples, tested the devices out, and then put in larger orders. The company says it has sent helmets to Italy’s carabinieri military police and to the Dutch government for testing. Police are also using the devices in Dubai.

Business Insider approached the Italian embassy and the Dutch government for comment. Neither responded, but an Italian user on Reddit spotted an armed guard sporting the helmets outside Milan’s cathedral this month. Asked about the accuracy of the helmet’s temperature scanning, Dr Guo said precision was “96%” and that the company had conducted extensive tests.

Dr Guo told Business Insider: “Government authorities and some private buyers are using the helmets. In China, local policemen, nurses, security guards, and people [staffing] checking points at metro stations are all using the helmets.”

She added that the devices were flexible. “In many places, they use fixed infrared cameras, but our helmets can be used with higher flexibility, adaptability – it can be worn or put on a tripod.” If a helmet on temperature-scanning mode detects someone nearby with a fever, an alarm goes off. “It gives a warning to the user directly,” said Dr Guo.

Experts are skeptical about how helpful temperature scanning will be.

Professor Davey Jones of Bangor University, who led a research project into the spread of COVID-19, pointed to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which fumbled its response as the coronavirus spread through the vessel, infecting around 700 people and killing eight.

“At least 25% of the [ship’s] population had no symptoms whatsoever, so clearly they’re not running a temperature,” he said. “So you end up missing a huge percentage of these people and they are still shedding the virus.”

Professor Jones added that people could be running a temperature for a number of other reasons, such as going through the menopause. “That leads to a whole bunch of false positives,” he said.

Dr Chris Wright, a medical doctor and expert in thermal imaging at the University of Exeter, said temperature scanning could be useful “if done correctly.”

The most precise way of taking someone’s temperature is via the inner corner of the eye, he said.

“The person needs to face the camera squarely because the reading will be affected by angle,” he told BI via email. “Also, distance is key. Too close and the reading will be overtly affected by the camera operator, too far away, and sensitivity is lost.”

For scanning in clinical settings, Dr Wright added, you need a high-resolution camera. He pointed us to one example he uses, a FLIR device, which has a resolution of 640 x 480. That compares to the smart helmet’s infrared camera resolution of 384 x 288.

Such devices, he argued, can be useful at airports, supermarkets, or even at entrances to doctors’ surgeries, as long as they use a high-resolution camera.

The idea has been mooted before, Dr Wright said, pointing to airports using thermal scanning during the SARS outbreak in Asia, but there are questions over how effective that was.

A study published by Eurosurveillance in February concluded: “Airport screening is unlikely to detect a sufficient proportion of 2019-nCoV [coronavirus] infected travelers to avoid entry of infected travelers.”

“It will identify some high-temperature cases but sensitivity will be poor,” Dr Wright cautioned.

There are also questions about who should be wearing these helmets, and what they should do once an alarm is triggered.

Dr Wright continued: “Clearly as a policeman, distance is a problem if you need to arrest someone, but never do without wearing a mask and gloves. Is it really up to the police to identify people with a temperature?”

While countries such as Singapore and China have deployed everything from robot dogs to drone spies to monitor the population, most citizens in Europe are unused to being tracked in this way.

Dr Guo argued that some alterations to normal life is to be expected.

“I think we may need to make some [short-term] adjustments to our lives, not only to protect ourselves but to protect others’ lives,” she said. “[T]his isn’t one person’s responsibility, it’s everybody’s responsibility. Protect ourselves, and protect others.”

According to businessinsider

Ruan Yun (Editor) - World Creativity Science Academy - WCSA