Integrated Optical System Helps Contain COVID-19 in Airports

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Will automated infection tracking become standard procedure in airports around the world? Real-time thermal monitoring combined with biometric data that could be immediately extracted and analyzed would help airport personnel quickly identify individuals with potential illness in even the most crowded terminals. Possible points of contact with the individual could also be tracked and identified.

To help airlines manage through the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond, Amorph Systems and VANTIQ are working with hardware and development partners, including several camera vendors such as HikVision, to develop solutions for continuous detection and monitoring of infectious disease outbreaks inside buildings and facilities, including airports. They are also working on a dedicated SARS-CoV-2 Spread Control System for hospitals and factories in Europe and worldwide.

Thermal imaging sensors are analyzed in real time by Amorph and VANTIQ to alert airport officials if visitors are running a fever. Courtesy of VANTIQ.

Thermal imaging sensors are analyzed in real time by Amorph and VANTIQ to alert airport officials if visitors are running a fever. Courtesy of VANTIQ.

For airports and airlines, Amorph Systems developed an application that combines temperature information from thermal cameras and crowd density measurements from lidar with flight information and passenger flows. The system detects passengers with high temperatures and alerts airport operations control to potential contaminated areas, so they can quickly redirect passenger flows, reposition flights, close infected areas, and reallocate staff.

“Airports are under incredible pressure right now, as they address exceptional operational issues caused by COVID-19,” Frank Frauenhoffer, managing director of Amorph Systems, said. “Our application will help them manage the current situation and prepare for future waves of COVID-19 or other potential virus outbreaks.”

The application takes a holistic approach to sensing, analyzing, and reacting to data, enabling data to be distributed and acted upon quickly. When a passenger or staff person with a fever is detected, the identifying information gathered by thermal cameras is correlated with a security camera using a snapshot based on computer vision technology.

Flight details about the passenger are integrated with details about the fever event. The combined data can then be used to make decisions about whether to close an area that may have become contaminated; to determine whether other passengers may have been infected; and to determine the effect of area closures on flights and estimate potential spread.

Point-to-point tracking of passengers is done through facial recognition. The composition of the individual is captured through biometric detail, but the person remains anonymous to everyone but airport security personnel.

“In the future this could be another checkpoint that airport operators enforce,” Frauenhoffer said. Such systems are currently in use in China and Southeast Asia, and Frauenhoffer believes that Europe could be heading toward similar regulation. In the future, optical counting systems could be used to measure the number of passengers entering certain airport areas, which would allow the airport to take measures that ensure the maximum passenger density in this area is not exceeded.

Frauenhoffer said that the system is scalable. “We provide a combination of system modules that can be used to cope with various use cases, as well as to simulate what will happen if, for example, density gets too high,” he said.

Amorph Systems was able to build a fully integrated system based on their solution for Helsinki Airport and other airports in just a few weeks by partnering with VANTIQ, which provides a low-code platform for distributed, scalable, asynchronous processing of real-time data from sensors, cameras, and IoT devices. The flexible VANTIQ platform enabled Amorph to create its solution in time to address the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. “We believe these systems will be critical to opening up retail stores, office buildings, airports, stadiums, factories, and health care facilities around the world,” VANTIQ CEO Marty Sprinzen said.

“VANTIQ connects everything to the security step, so that information can be immediately acted on,” Frauenhoffer said. 

Published: April 2020
Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses laser light to measure distances and generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape and characteristics of objects and surfaces. Lidar systems typically consist of a laser scanner, a GPS receiver, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU), all integrated into a single system. Here is how lidar works: Laser emission: A laser emits laser pulses, often in the form of rapid and repetitive laser...
thermal imaging
The process of producing a visible two-dimensional image of a scene that is dependent on differences in thermal or infrared radiation from the scene reaching the aperture of the imaging device.
machine vision
Machine vision, also known as computer vision or computer sight, refers to the technology that enables machines, typically computers, to interpret and understand visual information from the world, much like the human visual system. It involves the development and application of algorithms and systems that allow machines to acquire, process, analyze, and make decisions based on visual data. Key aspects of machine vision include: Image acquisition: Machine vision systems use various...
computer vision
Computer vision enables computers to interpret and make decisions based on visual data, such as images and videos. It involves the development of algorithms, techniques, and systems that enable machines to gain an understanding of the visual world, similar to how humans perceive and interpret visual information. Key aspects and tasks within computer vision include: Image recognition: Identifying and categorizing objects, scenes, or patterns within images. This involves training...
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