Thermal imaging in the fight against COVID-19

Limiting the spread of the virus by early detection has been crucial in all phases of the pandemic. One method of early detection is screening with thermal imaging cameras in densely populated places like airports, hospitals, enterprises and schools.

 Thermal imaging cameras can measure temperatures up till 0,3°C accuracy and can detect an elevated body temperature that could indicate fever. While it is in no way proof of COVID-19, and neither does somebody infected with the COVID-19 virus always have a higher body temperature, it still is an excellent early detection mechanism to help contain widespread outbreaks. 

 From February 2020 until summer, Umicore's Infrared Optics team saw a drastic increase in demand for its optics. Globally hundreds of thousands optics were sold for integration into thermal cameras used in detection of elevated body temperature. The team was able to absorb the sudden demand peak as Umicore is largely vertically integrated (starting from metals) and therefore little dependent on third party suppliers. Additionally, activity levels were increased in challenging circumstances (For example, introduction of hygienic rules and higher ‘preventive’ absences). The ramp-up of Umicore’s newly introduced and cost-effective wafer optic Tessella™ technology supported its customers to rapidly introduce affordable and performing systems.