Stuttgart's Robert Bosch Hospital trials people screening tech

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A non-contact method to monitor people entering the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart for signs of coronavirus is being trialled by Fraunhofer IPA and Fraunhofer IAO.

The Fraunhofer institutes have set up an infrared camera to look for fever, in combination with a radar module that measures heart and breathing rates using microwaves. The equipment screens individuals at the entrance to the Robert Bosch Hospital.

The research team is now examining how precisely the testing procedure correlates with the data collected from staff in the entrance to the hospital, and whether the procedure is practical.

It is hoped the new testing equipment will simplify the controls set up by the hospital for those entering. It also minimises risk for staff as the measurements can be made at a two-metre distance.

Thermal imaging cameras are being used around the world to screen people for fever at places like airports, although this isn't a test for coronavirus.

Along with screening people for signs of Covid-19, the Fraunhofer scientists are using their equipment to analyse the movement patterns of people entering the hospital. The aim is to integrate this technology into the hospital’s admission process.

Other institutes such as Tübingen University Hospital and several coronavirus screening checkpoints in the area are also keen to use the new test method.

Fraunhofer IPA plans to build four more systems within two weeks and has also applied for a patent. Dr Urs Schneider, a medical professional who works at Fraunhofer IPA, said: 'We are convinced that we have developed a sound concept that can also be used when the coronavirus crisis is over.'

He added that the test can be used not only by hospitals and care homes but also at airports and other important establishments.