COVID-19: Can You Use a Thermal Camera to Detect People Infected with Coronavirus?

Last updated on July 2, 2020

thermal cameras and Covid-19

NOTE: For the most up to date information on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) please refer to the CDC's website. Thermal cameras cannot guarantee an accurate diagnosis and the below are not recommended as an alternative to social distancing or intended to treat Coronavirus. If you are experiencing symptoms consult your medical professional immediately.

It’s safe to say that every citizen of the world is being affected by the coronavirus and nobody is immune to the havoc it is wreaking. On top of putting the lives of vulnerable members of society at risk, the consequences of this virus are extending to the economy and the availability of products & services.

At the time of writing, there have been 200,097 coronavirus cases worldwide that have resulted in the death of 8,010 individuals. The situation is being constantly monitored

Because of its astonishing infection rate, how quickly it spreads and the fact that its symptoms can lie dormant for so long—everyone is understandably eager to get themselves tested. But with doctors overwhelmed and unable to take all face-to-face appointments, hospitals at capacity and fake DIY coronavirus home kits circulating social media identifying those who are carrying the virus seems near impossible.

Which brings us to the topic of today’s article…

Can a Thermal Camera Identify the Infected?

As much as we wish it were the case, not every thermal imager will be able to identify infected people. This is simply because not all thermal imagers are created equal. 

Thermal imagers need certain characteristics to be able to do this. Here’s a brief overview of what these characteristic requirements are.

Thermal Sensor Requirements

Naturally, a thermal imager needs to have thermal sensors in order to identify those who have COVID-19. The minimum suggested thermal sensor capabilities or thermal resolution are 160 x 120.

Thermal Sensitivity Requirements

When it comes to the level of thermal sensitivity needed to detect the COVID19-positive amongst us, the higher the sensitivity the better.

FOV Requirements

A narrow field of view is suggested for a thermal imager to be adept at identifying possible coronavirus patients.

6 Thermal Imaging Products that Can Help Identify People with Coronavirus

It’s all fine and dandy telling you what characteristics a thermal imager needs to have to combat the spread of the coronavirus, but we understand that in this challenging time you need more specific information.

That’s precisely why we’ve compiled the following list of thermal imaging products that will aid in the identification of those infected. 

1. FLIR One Pro


FLIR ONE Pro - iOS - Professional Grade Thermal Camera for Smartphones - with VividIR and MSX Image Enhancement Technology

Best Cell Phone Attachment

What could be more convenient than a thermal camera that attaches to your SmartPhone? When you’re out and about potentially exposing yourself to infected people, you simply can’t be lugging around a bulky piece of equipment which is why the FLIR One Pro is so convenient. It has an adjustable one-fit connecter that makes this attachment compatible with most smartphones.

MSX image enhancement and VividIR image processing mean that you’ll be able to read your images clearly—and generate them quickly. The device is powered by the included lithium-Ion battery which will last for one hour of continued usage. It requires 40 minutes of charging time with the included USB charging cable. For added convenience, it also comes with a protective case.

We have no doubt that you will find this product useful, even after all of this COVID-19 business settles down as it can be used for home inspection, HVAC, building inspection, moisture detection, and other applications.

The FLIR One Pro is compatible with Apple and Android devices. The following Apple & Android products are compatible with this device:

Apple:
  • iPhone Plus 11 and 11 Pro 
  • iPhone XS and XS Max
  • iPhone X and XR
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
  • iPad Air2
  • iPad Mini4
Android:
  • Samsung - Galaxy S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10e, A5,
  • Note 9, Tab S4
  • Google - Pixel 3, Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P
  • Huawei - 20 Pro
  • HTC - HTC 10
  • Motorola - Z3 Play
  • One Plus - 6T
  • LG - G6, V40 ThinQ
Product Specifications
  • Dimensions: 2.7 x 0.5 x 1.8 inches 
  • Weight: 1.28 ounces
  • Material: ABS
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Temperature range: 4°F and 752°F (20°C to 400°C)
  • Drop test rating: 1.8 meters

2. FLIR E6-XT


If you need a handheld device to help you identify possible coronavirus infections, look no further than the FLIR E6-XT. Why do we say this? For starters, it has a thermal sensitivity of <0.06°C and a FOV of 45° x 34°. In addition, the device has an extended temperature range which makes the detection of the infected incredibly accurate.

MSX image enhancement, 240 x 280 IR resolution and four measurement modes solidify this as the best thermal camera to potentially identify COVID-19-positive people. The FLIR E6-XT comes with a hard-body transport case, a USB cable and power supply for EU, US, UK or AUS plugs as well as printed documentation. It takes two and a half hours to reach full charge and will last for approximately four hours of continued usage.

Much like the FLIR One Pro, once your need to measure body temperatures is no longer your top priority the E6-XT can be used in various applications. This makes the decision to invest in the FLIR E6-XT now a worthwhile investment in the long run.

This handheld device is WiFi-enabled and has Bluetooth capabilities. In addition, it is compatible with the FLIR Tools app so sharing your readings and data with your loved ones is as easy as can be. 

Product Specifications
  • Dimensions: 3.7 x 9.6 x 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.27 pounds
  • Material: PlastiC
  • Warranty: 2-year for parts and labor & 10-year for thermal detector
  • Temperature range: -4°F and 1022°F (-20°C to 550°C)
  • Drop test rating: 2 meters

3. Seek Reveal XR


Seek Thermal Reveal Xtra Range Camera – Rechargeable, 206 x 156 Thermal Sensor with 20° FOV for Long-Range Detection. Top Quality Thermal Imagery Tools

Best Pocket-Sized

Its compact size and lightweight properties make the Reveal XR from Seek the best pocket-sized thermal camera on the market. In addition to its high level of portability, the Seek Reveal XR features a 20° FOV and has a 900’ distance range.

Another impressive feature found in the Seek Reveal XR is its 10-hour battery life, which is a feature that is often absent in thermal cameras. The full charge is achieved after a few hours of being plugged into the included USB charging cable. In addition to the charging cable, with each purchase of the Seek Reveal XR comes a mini-SD card and a comprehensive instruction manual.

Further to its ability to positively identify the COVID-19-positive, the Seek Reveal XR can be used in both electrical and automotive applications. 

Product Specifications
  • Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 7 inches
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Material: Polymer
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Temperature range: 1°F and 626°F (-40°C to 330°C)
  • Drop test rating: 1 meter

4. Fluke 59 Max+ Infrared Thermometer


Fluke 59 Max+ Infrared Thermometer

Best Infrared Thermometer

It’s understandable that you don’t want to get too close to people at this particular moment in time, which is where the Fluke 59 Max+ Infrared Thermometer comes in. Boasting an 8:1 distance to spot ratio, you can easily measure temperatures—from a safe distance to limit your exposure to the infected.

The Fluke 59 Max+ Infrared Thermometer is lightweight, easy to use and features a handy Hi & Lo alarm system. There is no need for fancy charging devices or batteries as the Fluke 59 Max+ Infrared Thermometer runs off a single AA battery that comes with the device. When the device runs out of battery life, simply head over to your nearest convenience store if you haven’t got these common batteries lying around the house.

Above and beyond helping you measure body temperatures in this worrying time the Fluke 59 Max+ Infrared Thermometer can be used in mechanical, residential, commercial and general troubleshooting applications. 

Product Specifications
  • Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.6 x 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Material: Plastic
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Temperature range: -22°F and 932°F (-30°C to 500°C)
  • Drop test rating: 1 meter

5. Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 Non-Contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer


Another product that will help pick up the signs of COVID-19 infections is Etekcity’s Lasergrip 1080 Non-Contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer. This handy device has a 12:1 distance to spot ratio, which makes this the ideal tool for gauging body temperatures from a distance. Simply aim the device at the forehead of the suspected infected person, press the trigger and read what the digital display has to say about their coronavirus status.

This thermometer does exactly what a thermometer is supposed to do: effectively measure temperatures. Live temperature reading, wide temperature range and spot to distance ratio make this a great tool for quickly diagnosing potential coronavirus patients. Other than the infrared thermometer and a user manual, no accessories come with the Etekcity Lasergrip 1080.

The Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 Non-Contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer can also be used in other applications that require precise temperature readings. These applications range from checking the temperature of your oven before cooking meat for dinner to performing auto maintenance tasks in commercial mechanic workshops. 

Product Specifications
  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 4.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Material: Plastic
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Temperature range: -58°F and 1022°F (-50°C to 550°C)
  • Drop test rating: Drop-resistant

6. Klein Tools IR10 Infrared Thermometer


The last coronavirus-detecting thermal tool that we’ll be sharing with you today is the Klein Tools IR10 Infrared Thermometer. This device has an ergonomic gun-grip, presents easy-to-read digital readings and a dual-targeting laser that enables you to measure temperatures more accurately.

The Klein Tools IR10 Infrared Thermometer has audible notifications that alert you when a temperature is higher or lower than the predefined highest and lowest temperatures as set by you. In addition, the distance to spot ratio of this thermometer is 20:1—which is nothing short of incredible!

Using this device couldn’t be any easier or safer and its budget-friendliness certainly doesn’t hurt. For the price you pay, using it purely during the chaos of COVID-19 would be justified but this product actually has many other uses that you can take advantage of in the future.

With the Klein Tools, IR10 Infrared Thermometer comes a K-connector probe and a 9V battery. 

Product Specifications
  • Dimensions: 4.6 x 2 x 7 inches 
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Material: Plastic
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Temperature range: -40°F and 1200°F (-40°C to 650°C)
  • Drop test rating: 3 meters
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Final Thoughts

As terrifying as this time is, it’s incredible to see how the world is uniting and using technology to fight an unprecedented threat to the well-being of its citizens.

It’s more important than ever to keep yourself and your family safe & the key to this lies in early detection. So if you haven’t got any of the above-listed devices yet, we suggest you get your hands on one immediately. 

About the author 

Randy Angwin

Randy Angwin is an avid outdoor enthusiast and has been with TICR since the beginning. He helps create new articles and reviews latest infrared and night vision devices for the site as well as staying on top of the latest trends in the thermal industry. When not working, Randy likes to hunt and spend time with his two German shepherds.

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