In multiple countries, police are scanning civilians for signs of the coronavirus using thermal cameras embedded in their helmets.
The helmets, designed by the Chinese tech company KC Wearable, give cops an augmented reality display that can scan for fevers as well as identify passers-by with facial recognition software, Business Insider reports. Over 1,000 Chinese cops are already using the helmets, as do those in Dubai and Italy — with an undisclosed list of countries plan to start soon.
KC Wearable’s global chief, Jie Guo, told BI that the cameras are highly accurate. But asymptomatic carriers and the logistical difficulties of getting an accurate reading on moving targets present serious challenges.
Symptom checkpoints were used during past outbreaks, like SARS, Ebola, and swine flu, but never actually worked. Experts told BI that getting an accurate temperature reading from a no-contact thermometer requires carefully aiming it at the patient’s eyeballs — meaning that spotting fevers on a bustling sidewalk will be extremely difficult.
Pound of Cure
Despite those concerns, BI reports that KC Wearable has seen a spike in interest from governments around the world — including some where pervasive surveillance isn’t already the norm, and residents may be alienated by the cameras’ presence.
“I think we may need to make some [short-term] adjustments to our lives, not only to protect ourselves but to protect others’ lives,” Guo told BI.
More on fever cameras: Experts: Fever-Detecting Cameras Won’t Really Stop Outbreaks