INFRARED SENSORS BECOME SARS DETECTORS

"Authorities in Singapore have adapted devices originally developed for a military purpose seeing enemies in the dark to help combat the spread of SARS," the New York Times reports.

The new version of the device, called an infrared fever sensing system, detects passengers' body temperatures, spotting people with a fever one of the symptoms of SARS without having to touch them or even make them stop walking...The camera "sees" the warmth of objects relative to the ambient temperature, and translates that information into a video image of people walking by. The customized software is set to display anything cooler than 93.2 degrees as black. Normal exposed skin in the mid-90's registers as lime green, brightening to yellow as it gets warmer. Anything at 99.5 degrees or above, like a feverish forehead, glows bright red in the image.The system is remarkably sensitive, able to discern temperatures to within one-half a degree at a range of 15 feet. It can see warm bodies much farther away, though less precisely.Of course, not every fever is a sign of SARS, and a fever is not the only reason a person might redden on the screen, according to Ace Cheong, an operator of one of the devices.A sunburn, a few drinks of alcohol or just some brisk exercise might raise skin temperature enough to earn a trip to the special cubicle nearby for an encounter with an oral thermometer.
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