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Facing the crisis | Celsius would be amazed

Gabriel Fahrenheit would have been surprised.

Posted Oct 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

Marc Tison
La Presse

The device measures the temperature of several moving people instantly and simultaneously by means of a face reading. In a row, for example, or at the exit of a corridor from which a compact stream of people emerges.

In short, a high degree of technology.

Within days, the system designed by the Montreal-based Thingsfactory will be tested in three Montreal hospitals.


Pierre Gauvin, President and Founder of Thingsfactory

frontline, who constantly has to repeat the same questions and take the same action, ”said company president and founder, Pierre Gauvin.

The device would never have seen daylight without COVID-19.

We try things

Founded in 2017, Thingsfactory brings together half a dozen researchers. Its leaders have an average of "30 years of experience in information technology," assures Pierre Gauvin.

"In 2017, I told them, I'm going to provide you with the infrastructure, the lab, the technology components, and we'll try things out," he says.

One of those things turned into a platform for monitoring the mechanical systems of tall buildings – their flagship product, BuildUp!

"And here comes COVID-19. In March most of our customers will end our consultancy contracts.

The team members are scattered from home. Working.

" We thought: can we use the platform we developed to create a Screening tool for COVID? "

The idea is generous, but we are far from checking electromechanical systems.

Yet they are up to the challenge.

A very simple plan

They soon opted for telethermography – non-contact temperature measurement.

"We feel comfortable with that, because it is facial recognition, artificial intelligence, alarm", says Pierre Gauvin. We know that. "

" It's March 17th, "he explains.

In theory their plan is simple: combine the best thermal imaging camera, the best processor and the best program.

Hopefully the best product will come out.

] They first saw a high-quality US micro camera.

They then opted for a graphics processor from the renowned company Nvidia.

They finally tackled a scaled-down version of their BuildUp monitoring program! "We got all kinds of things out of it which we did not need and concentrated on facial recognition, "says Pierre Gauvin.

We will then be in April." We absolutely want to launch our product at the end of May. "

The device should stand out because of the temperature of record subjects while they are in motion. “This is the number one issue. Most products on the market do not do this.

But they add a difficulty layer. “We want to take groups, rows, small gatherings. No differentiation: as soon as a face comes into the camera's field of view, we want to be able to read.

Because of the movement and the number of subjects, they cannot use the most reliable and stable tear duct temperature measurement.

We have to multiply the reading points.

With nine complete measurements per second, the device measures the temperature at half a dozen places on the face.

The program disentangles this mess of data to produce a temperature for each individual that appears in the camera's field. Precision: one-tenth of a degree Celsius.

The camera's field of view is 16 m2. "As soon as a person or group of people enters there, we pick them up and display the temperature."

A cold welcome

On May 26, the company announced the new product in Canada and the United States.

Unfortunately, the reception is not feverish. “We tried to convince customers to buy the product, but it was a bit run down, with COVID people having to step back. "

Nevertheless, about fifteen devices were installed in buildings, hotels and gymnasiums.

But the rise of the second wave has just rekindled interest in this technology.

" All of a sudden you get more phone calls. Our order book begins to fill up! "

To football fever

The standard model TF-350 comes in the form of an 8-inch high electronics box and an independent camera unit.

On the screen, the measured temperatures are shown on the moving figures. If the temperature of a subject is too high, a notification will be sent by SMS.

Thus notified, the receptionist, agent or manager can take the necessary action.

"What we have noticed is that these people often do a second manual reading to confirm the situation, and then manage them according to their protocol," notes Pierre Gauvin.

The device is completely anonymous and does not store any data, he says.

Pilot projects will soon be carried out by three hospitals in Montreal. “That's a big deal for us because it's the kind of customers that you have to convince the product is a must.”

But its use is not limited to the hospital sector. The device was presented to Janice McNair, owner of the Houston Texans (NFL), in anticipation of the eventual resumption of live action.

For football fever, what.

Call everyone

How is your company dealing with the crisis? What actions do you take as a boss and manager? What are your challenges, your pitfalls, your successes? Contact us to share your experiences, your colleagues can learn from this.

Written by Rahis

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