Body temperature-scanning facial recognition device sales boom in Singapore

Effectiveness questionable but enthusiasm strong

biometrics-based fever screening to increase public safety

The need to reopen up businesses, schools and other public places in Singapore after prolonged shutdowns due to the pandemic is driving demand for facial recognition devices that scan for body temperatures, according to a report by The Straits Times.

The high demand from users has also forced some technology companies in the country to resort to sale of the biometric devices, switching from their previous business lines, the report added. These devices with mini screens and cameras are now said to be common to find in malls and office lobbies around Singapore.

Recent findings of a study by IPVM published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics showed widespread manipulation of results delivered by camera-based fever screening systems, which are witnessing a global increase in demand.

The report cited the case of some companies such as software firm LDR Technology and Info-Tech Systems Integrators which were into other businesses before the pandemic, but soon switched when there was a marked increase in demand for the facial recognition fever-detecting devices in the country.

LDR Technology business manager Jimmy Lim said they saw the need for non-contact facial recognition temperature scanners especially from people who needed to get back to their work places, and so they decided to take advantage of the situation to hit the market.

Info-Tech Systems Integrators for its part told The Strait Times it sold 980 units of its facial recognition temperature screeners last year and another 580 in the first quarter of 2021. The report also mentioned another firm Airboard Technology which said it sold around 200 units of the biometric devices last year to different customers, including SMEs who are subscribed to a government digital program meant to enhance workplace efficiency and safety for SMEs within the context of the pandemic.

Some users of the devices who spoke to The Straits Times said although expensive, they are preferred for their ease of use and safety. Officials of Babilou Family Singapore – an educational organization — for instance said they had deployed 71 facial recognition temperature scanners in their pre-schools and at student care center in 55 locations across the country.

“We were using a handheld thermometer for temperature scanning, but it was time-consuming and labor-intensive. With this face-recognition system, it allowed rapid contactless temperature-taking to monitor each employee and visitor’s temperature before entry,” The Straits Times quoted Julie Koh, chief executive of the institution as confirming.

Companies selling the devices say they hope to see steady sales from the demand as up to 75 percent of people were expected to be able to get back to their work places in the country beginning April 5.

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