Chinese startup develops smart glasses to check for coronavirus symptoms… but do they work?

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(Natural News) To help efforts to screen for symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, a Chinese startup has developed augmented reality glasses that lets wearers “see” a person’s temperature. Developed by a company called Rokid, the T1 smart glasses use a frame-mounted thermal camera to measure people’s temperatures from a distance, even while they’re moving.

“Apart from fixed temperature measurement, T1 can provide portable, distant and prompt temperature checking, which would be a great help,” Rokid vice president Xiang Wenjie said.

Xiang claims that the company developed its T1 glasses in only two weeks. He says that the company has already sold about 1,000 pairs of glasses to governments, industrial parks and schools.

Augmented reality to show people’s temperatures

Augmented reality technology uses special glasses to allow information to be overlayed over what a person sees, providing them with more data on what they’re looking at. In the case of Rokid’s T1, the glasses use an infrared sensor on a 12-megapixel camera that the company claims can detect the temperatures of up to 200 people within two minutes, from as far as three meters away.

Computing power for the glasses comes from a Qualcomm CPU, which also allows it to offer other features such as hands-free voice controls as well as the live recording of photos and video.

The Chinese startup plans business-to-business (B2B) sales of the wearable device in America, saying that the T1 can assist businesses, hospitals and law enforcement with COVID-19 detection. It claims that it is already working on deals with several U.S. hospitals and local municipalities to deliver shipments of the T1 thermal imaging wearables. However, they couldn’t name any due to confidentiality agreements.

One company that is looking into Rokid’s glasses is California based online grocer Weee! The e-commerce company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is evaluating the T1 glasses to monitor the temperatures of its warehouse employees throughout the day.

As for procedures to manage those who the glasses detect as having COVID-19 related symptoms — such as referring them for testing — Rokid’s U.S. director Liang Guan says that this is something for their clients to determine on their own.

“The clients can do the follow-up action, such as giving them a mask or asking to work from home,” said Guan.

The T1 glasses can connect to computers via USB and can also be set up for “internet of things” (IoT) capabilities, allowing commercial clients to connect them to their own platforms.

Privacy concerns with smart glasses

As novel as the idea of smart glasses that measure people’s temperatures may be, the device could catch the attention of U.S. regulators, who have become much warier of Chinese tech firms handling of American citizen’s data.

For its part, Rokid claims that it doesn’t collect data from the glasses directly.

“Regarding this module…we do not take any data to the cloud. For customers, privacy is very important to them. The data measurement is stored locally,” explained Guan.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), temperature checks are counted as medical exams, something that employers normally cannot mandate their employees to undergo. With the COVID-19 outbreak now classified as a pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidance allowing employers to ask their employees to have their temperatures checked. However, employees’ temperature data is still covered by the ADA’s confidentiality requirements. (Related. The coronavirus outbreak is sparking the rollout of more digital surveillance.)

Should U.S. companies come to adopt Rokid’s T1 smart glasses, they’ll need to make sure that they adhere to these rules, and that the glasses and whatever systems they connect to them, protect the data that they harvest.

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