Can I use my thermal camera for elevated skin temperature screening?

Elevated skin temperature screening with a thermal imaging camera can help organizations avoid continued work and production interruptions due to COVID-19. By screening each person for elevated skin temperature before they enter a building, you can determine who needs a medical check for fever, which can be a sign of infection. It’s an easy and efficient way help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

But do you have to buy a special camera to start screening people for elevated skin temperatures? While it can be beneficial to have a FLIR EST-model camera such as the A500-EST or T560-EST, some FLIR thermal imaging cameras used for facilities inspection or site safety have the on-board software needed for skin temperature screening.

The Right Camera for the Job

Thermal imaging cameras can provide a fast, efficient method for screening individuals in a short period of time. Instead of requiring direct or close contact for a temperature reading, thermal cameras are designed to detect infrared radiation (heat) within their field of view from a distance and display it as an easily interpreted image. Additionally, FLIR calibrated thermal cameras offer thousands of points of temperature measurement in each image that can be used to determine the surface temperature of objects and people. With this capability, FLIR thermal cameras can be used as a non-contact tool to detect differences in skin surface temperatures and pattern changes as part of an initial screening.

Check with Your Crew

Your facilities management team may already have a handheld FLIR thermal camera in-house for electrical and building maintenance work.

Your company may instead have automated, fixed-mount cameras stationed in your facility for condition monitoring, early fire detection, or product quality control.

For this application, your camera will need three features: calibration for temperature measurement; enough resolution to produce a clear image with multiple measurement points (at least 240 x 180 pixels); and sensitive enough to accurately measure skin temperatures (at least ±0.5°C over the range of at least 34°C to 39°C). Appropriate FLIR camera models include the Exx-Series, the T-Series, and Axxx-Series cameras.

The Advantage of Screening Mode

If you’re lucky enough to have a Exx-Series, T-Series, or A320 Tempscreen camera produced before 2021, you have the added advantage of FLIR Screen-EST™ Mode, a built-in screening mode for elevated skin temperatures. This mode is activated from the menu system and runs live on the camera monitor (Exx- or T-Series) or on a computer (A320 Tempscreen).

In screening mode, you can sample skin temperature data from people at the testing location to set a Sampled Average Temperature. Each person is then screened individually and their measured temperature is compared against the average. This helps ensure the measurements account for environmental factors such as air conditioning, outdoor temperatures, and time of day.

FLIR offers plenty of tips for setting up screening mode on your camera at

Thermal Cameras Can't Diagnose Illness

It’s important to note that no thermal camera is capable of seeing a virus or fever. These are not medical diagnostic tools. Instead, a thermal camera allows you to detect elevated skin temperatures from a safe distance and then determine if the individual being screened needs a second look with a medical device.

The FLIR thermal camera you have on hand also cannot screen an entire group of people at once, or reliably measure people who are far from the camera. Your goal should be to bring people up to the camera individually, ensure they’re in focus, screen them quickly, and then allow them to move on while you screen the next person.

Using the FLIR camera you have at hand, your business can screen frontline employees and/or customers for elevated skin temperature before they enter crowded workspaces. Organizations that deploy these screening systems can help provide a more safe and secure workplace for a productive workforce.

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