Local company makes new tool to help identify those with COVID-19

A melding of technologies help trace illness
Posted at 3:09 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 21:54:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's like something from out of a James Bond movie: A device that takes your photo, and your temperature, and helps fight the coronavirus.

Many think a new melding of technology is a key to rebounding from COVID-19 by helping to identify those who are infected. Of course, there's the nasal swab test, and those so-called 'fever guns.'

But, a local company is now marketing a potentially game-changing product... one you are sure to encounter soon if you haven't already.

Thermometer guns like this are not perfect. Consider: You have check the temperature of each person one at a time. And -- not everyone infected with the virus has a fever.

But, businesses are buying in to a new concept, and, as you are about to see -- the technology is moving fast.

"It's just another arrow in their quiver. A tool that they can us to get a mass screening in," said Tom Herring of Herring Technology in Berry Hill.

Herring said his temperature monitoring station or TMS is for grocery stores, factories, schools, even churches -- anywhere that draws a crowd.

The TMS screens body temperatures, one indicator of possible coronavirus infection.

"It is taking multiple people so if they are walking together, up to thirty people at a time and together it gets their individual temperature from their face," said Herring.

Here's how it works: A TMS unit is set at an entry point of a business. It then registers the surface body temperatures of visitors from up to ten feet away and also captures their faces so they can be identified if needed. The software signals green if the temperatures are normal.

"If someone walks through with an elevated temperature it's going to flash a screen shot ... the box will change red," said Herring. That person can then be checked for illness.

For this demonstration to show a red response no one was really sick. Herring used a hair dryer to heat things up.

And that makes an important point: TMS is not perfect and should not give a false sense of security. Many factors can influence body temperature and not everyone infected shows symptoms.

But, Herring says checking for a fever is one way to help protect customers and employees from COVID-19.

Each of the units sell for about $9,000 and Herring Technology says they've had to scramble to keeping up with the orders since their product first became available four weeks ago.

While the technology helps during the pandemic, there are those who worry about privacy issues especially when it comes to public screening of a person's personal health.

That issue will debated as more business turn to use this technology.