Edgeworx, the edge computing company, has launched a new AI-powered camera called Darcy to help protect workplaces of every size. In addition to detecting signs of fever, Darcy’s AI engine identifies whether individuals are wearing a face mask, tracks self-reported symptoms and delivers a quick, comfortable screening experience ideal for high-traffic environments.

Organizations currently face an impossible choice between affordable, but ineffective, temperature readers (such as point and click devices or tablets) on the one hand, and cost-prohibitive medical-grade thermal cameras on the other.

Affordable and accurate thermal camera

Darcy ends this dilemma by offering the accuracy of a precision thermal camera at a fraction of the price. Darcy costs less than a fifth of the price of competing FDA-compliant thermal cameras, putting it within reach of schools and small businesses as well as enterprises and large retail outlets.

To further ensure screening is accessible to all, Edgeworx is offering the first camera free to all public schools. The solution is already being piloted in Bay Area and New York schools.

Despite their five-figure price tags, precision thermal cameras are slow, ungainly, inaccurate and hard to operate. Some take as much as an hour to warm up and need regular recalibration. By contrast, Darcy uses artificial intelligence and smart-room sensors to do the work of expensive hardware.

Real-time alerts

Safety checks will become a feature of daily life as we return to our schools and workplaces"

Darcy logs self-reported symptoms via a cellphone app, and checks for temperatures in less than a second, keeping lines moving and avoiding dangerous congestion at entry points. It provides real-time alerts and data reports so organizations can spot outbreaks early, take appropriate action and demonstrate compliance with public health mandates.

It can be updated with additional features (such as AI for social distance checks) as public health practices evolve, no additional hardware required. Darcy provides peace of mind to businesses, employees, and customers.

Schools and workplaces safe re-openings

Safety checks will become a feature of daily life as we return to our schools and workplaces. But many of these checks will be ineffective because organizations can’t afford high-end solutions that cost tens of thousands of dollars so they rely on devices that have been hastily thrown together and are inaccurate. That has to change,” said Farah Papaioannou, President and Co-founder of Edgeworx.

We developed Darcy because we knew we could use our AI, data and edge computing knowledge to really help people struggling with the challenges of re-opening. We’re focused on protecting all workplaces with a solution that’s affordable and accurate today—and is smart enough to adapt as the world’s knowledge of COVID-19 and other viruses evolves in the future.”

Darcy secures Manhattan preschool

Manhattan preschool program Kids At Work is among the organizations using Darcy to create a reliable and reassuring screening experience for children and staff.

"We were searching for a health check solution that would give families peace of mind and be non-intrusive for our student population, from infants to five-year-olds,” said Julie.

Darcy reads temperatures with a margin of error of 0.5 degrees Centigrade

Averill, founder at Kids At Work. “Darcy checked all our boxes with its seamless experience, easy record-keeping and affordability. We're also thrilled with the day-long temperature monitoring feature. As an owner, I feel so much more confident about reopening with Darcy.” Darcy owes its speed, precision and low cost to Edgeworx’s edge computing fabric, which allows Artificial Intelligence (AI) to run on the device rather than in the cloud. Darcy’s AI performs many of the functions that require expensive hardware on other devices. Key benefits include:

Accuracy and reliability

Darcy reads temperatures with a margin of error of 0.5 degrees Centigrade. It overcomes the traditional challenges of contactless temperature monitoring with several innovations:

  • Using AI, Darcy identifies where on a person’s face the reading should be taken, determines if they are close enough and whether they are wearing anything, such as a headband or sunglasses, that would interfere with an accurate reading, and automatically adjusts to body temperature fluctuations caused by circadian rhythms throughout the day and even the weather outside.
  • To offset the effect of room temperature on a reading, most thermal cameras require an expensive scientific instrument called a blackbody reference unit, which maintains its own temperature and is used to calibrate the reading from the camera.

Faster readings and less prone to Errors

By contrast, Darcy calibrates its readings against inexpensive smart sensors that attach to objects around the room, read the temperature of those objects and report it continuously and wirelessly to the camera.

Not only is this significantly less expensive, but also less prone to failure, requires no maintenance and means the camera can be moved without triggering a lengthy recalibration process.

Darcy takes readings in less than 100 milliseconds and uses data processing to identify any anomalies. As a result, by the time a person has approached the camera, Darcy may have 10 to 40 readings and can ensure that only a reliable one is recorded. Traditional cameras take only one reading, whether reliable or not, increasing the chances that a person with fever is not detected.

Check mask usage and symptoms

  • Darcy goes beyond temperature scanning to help organizations identify high-risk individuals who may not have a fever. Its AI identifies whether the individual is wearing a mask and allows organizations to conduct efficient wellness checks: Visitors complete a symptom survey from their home or phone via an app, which generates a unique QR code to be scanned by Darcy at entry. Additional features can be easily deployed so these devices can adapt as new practices come into play, without costly hardware changes.
  • Avoid long lines and unsafe crowding at entry points
    Because all the processing happens locally on the camera rather than in the cloud, performance is dramatically improved, avoiding the need for delays while a person’s temperature is checked. Beautifully designed, unobtrusive and with a friendly interface, Darcy makes screening quick, easy and unintimidating. By installing additional cameras in pass-by mode, schools and businesses can continue to monitor temperature and mask usage throughout the day—and throughout the building—without interrupting schedules.

Get real-time alerts and compliance reports

  • Darcy provides warnings via SMS, email, app or desktop notification so organizations can get early warnings of facilities where symptoms are trending and create a complete audit trail for compliance with public health mandates. Armed with data, organizations can make informed decisions and implement targeted measures rather than resorting to broad closures.
  • Built-in privacy and security
    Because Darcy handles storage and AI processing locally, it never sends images or sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) to the cloud.

subscription

Organizations can choose from two subscription packages and schedule a demo

- Monthly subscription

- Yearly subscription

Until the end of 2020, Edgeworx is donating a free camera to any public school that purchases a subscription. To apply for a free camera, one may contact Edgeworx.

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HID Global Pilot Program Demonstrates Social Distancing and Contact Tracing
HID Global Pilot Program Demonstrates Social Distancing and Contact Tracing

If one employee stands less than six feet away from another employee, a fob attached to a lanyard around his or her neck emits an auditory beep – an immediate reminder to observe social distancing. If an employee were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, a cloud-based database provides a record of who at the company the sick employee had contact with. These capabilities of HID Location Services ensure social distancing and provide contact tracing to enable companies to return to work safely. They have been deployed in a pilot program at HID Global’s Corporate Headquarters in Austin, Texas. Social distancing using a BLE beacon To ensure social distancing, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon is emitted from an employee’s fob (or from a badge that has the same functionality). The beacon communicates peer-to-peer with a beacon emitted by another employee’s fob or badge to alert if the location of the two employees is less than six feet apart. To ensure social distancing, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon is emitted from an employee’s fob For contact tracing, the beacons communicate via a nearby “reader” (a BluFi BLE-to-Wi-Fi gateway) to the Bluzone cloud-based software-as-a-service. The building area covered by each reader constitutes a “zone,” and the system records when two beacons are signaling from the same zone, which indicates contact between employees. In effect, the system records – historically and forensically – who was near whom (and for how long) using the zone-based approach. “In the workplace, we provide organizations with visibility into the location of their workforce,” says Mark Robinton, Vice President, IoT Services Business Unit at HID Global. Pilot program spans variety of environments By documenting where a sick individual moved in the building, the system also can guide any need to close off a certain area for deep cleaning. Instead of quarantining a whole building, a company could quarantine a small subset of employees who were likely exposed. Importantly, the system only reports data, while management makes the actual decisions about how to respond. The site of the pilot program is the 250,000-square-foot HID Global facility in Austin, which includes a variety of environments, including manufacturing areas, an executive suite, cubicles, a training area, a cafeteria, and lobbies. This spectrum of use cases enables the pilot program to evaluate how the system works in various scenarios. The building in Austin has two floors, plenty of natural lighting and emphasises sustainability in its design. HID Location Services ensure social distancing and provide contact tracing Pilot starts small and expands For the pilot program, 80 readers were installed in a wide area in the facility, including a variety of environments. Initially 30 badges and 30 fobs, all BLE-enabled, were issued to employees. If a badge identifies another nearby beacon (suggesting a social distancing failure), it emits a blinking LED light, which can be seen by the offending co-worker. The fobs emit an audible beep, which employees have overwhelmingly said they prefer. Observers overseeing the pilot program have documented employee reaction and comments. It emits a blinking LED light, which can be seen by the offending co-worker There were challenges in setting up the pilot program remotely to ensure fewer employees were on site during the pandemic. The equipment was provisioned in Florida and then shipped to the Austin location. Fine-tuning was required to adjust the signal strength of the BLE beacons. The badges were initially more powerful, but the strength was dialed back to be comparable to the fobs and within the six-foot social distancing range. Signal strength is also a variable in diverse environments – the 2.4 Ghz signal tends to reflect easily off metal, so adjustments in signal strength are needed in a factory setting, for example, versus a collection of cubicles.   “This facility is large enough and diverse enough that it provides great test results and quality data to analyze,” says Dean Young, Physical Security Manager at HID Global. “Our employees are eager to be part of the pilot to demonstrate that we use the technologies we provide to our customers, and they want to help us stay in compliance with social distancing and contact tracing.” Ensuring privacy while protecting employees HID Global’s headquarters had approximately 425 employees before the coronavirus pandemic lowered the number drastically to include only essential workers. As more people return to work, additional fobs and badges are being issued to expand the scope of the pilot program. The program is also incorporating contact tracing of suppliers and others who visit the facility. Except when triggered by contact among employees, locations are not recorded. Each employee’s location is always available in real-time (e.g. in case of an emergency), but they are not “tracked.” Through BluFi placement and geofence capabilities, the system closes off private areas where location should not be monitored, such as a rest room. Geofencing also identifies when employees enter and/or exit the area covered by the pilot program. Although each beacon is associated with an employee, the employee’s identity is not part of the data stored in the cloud, so there are no privacy concerns. Data is completely anonymized, and no personally identifiable information (PII) is stored in Bluzone. Other computer systems in a company, such as a human resources (HR) program, can privately and securely store the identities associated with each beacon.   Other applications for HID location services In addition to social distancing and contact tracing applications, HID Location Services offer other use cases ranging from asset tracking and employee safety/security to location analytics. For example, the system can analyze room usage for better building management and operational efficiency. It can also quickly find people in emergency situations. These use cases ensure continued value for a system even after concerns about social distancing and contact tracing have faded. The system can analyze room usage for better building management and operational efficiency Another big selling point is the ability of a company to be better prepared in case of a future pandemic, or a second wave of this one, says Robinton. The HID Location Services social distancing and contact tracing applications will be available at the end of Q3 and will be rolled out through HID Global’s existing integrator channel. Vertical markets likely to embrace the technology include healthcare, where hospitals need to track patients as they come in and to know which other patients or staff they may have been exposed to. The financial sector is another likely market, as is manufacturing, which is looking to avoid the prospect of shutting down an entire plant. It’s better to address the three or four people who were near a sick employee than to shut down the plant. In the hospitality industry, fobs can be used to signal duress by the housekeeping staff.

Debunking The Myths Of EBT Cameras In A COVID-19 World
Debunking The Myths Of EBT Cameras In A COVID-19 World

The new buzz in the thermal imaging world goes by many names. In a short time, a small niche in the world of IR, which was previously sidelined to make way for more lucrative markets such as security and defence, has taken the top spot in the attention, production and sales for many manufacturers and integrators.  It’s no surprise considering the size of this new market. Suddenly, hotels, cinemas, malls, hospitals, critical services, public transportation, office buildings and more have become consumers of thermal imaging cameras. Along with that, the more traditional markets, such as security, defense and industry are suffering from budget cuts, project cancellations, or postponements. Combine two of these elements, and the new elevated body temperature (EBT) camera market is easily 3-4 times the size of the other markets combined. Thermal imaging cameras and common misconceptions Can thermal cameras detect viruses?  The answer is NO. The best the camera can do is tell you if someone has a higher skin temperature than others. There are many reasons for an elevated body temperature which are not all health-related, such as exercise or even sitting in a warm environment without air-conditioning. Are the cameras accurate? The accuracy debate is a significant and controversial discussion with much misinformation running around. When discussing accuracy, there are two considerations: The first consideration is the accuracy of the camera itself versus a blackbody. Blackbodies are devices which can regulate temperature very accurately (although not all are equal) and have a high emissivity level, which means they are almost not affected by surrounding heat or energy. All thermal cameras are calibrated against blackbodies. Still, some manufacturers have been using them in their EBT solutions to give the camera a consistent temperature reference to which it can adjust. The accuracy of the camera in this discussion talks about the camera itself. How sensitive the detector is, internal reflections, lens aperture, noise level and the calibration process itself. Also, if you read the fine print, most manufacturers quote accuracy levels which are valid only in a controlled or laboratory environment. As in, a room with a steady 25°C and a slow shift in temperature (not more than 1°C per hour). Most field conditions don’t allow this – so this low level of accuracy is challenging to replicate in practice.Blackbodies are devices which can regulate temperature very accurately The other focuses on the fact we are not looking for COVID in black bodies. We are looking for it in humans. And, the substance known as human skin acts very differently. To date, there are no medical models which can predict how skin will behave in different scenarios. We don’t know what the external skin temperature of a man weighing X who was exposed for X minutes to direct or indirect sunlight would be. So, while the black body may be spot on – it has no bearing on the temperature reading of humans.  So, while we can improve the first issue, the second one is more complicated. One way to circumvent it is by using population statistical analysis and looking for the gradient between the healthy population (which does have existing medical models) to the people with a higher temperature which are statistical anomalies for such a camera. Thermal cameras and their suitability  Are all thermal cameras suitable for temperature readings? There is a difference between a thermal camera and a thermometric camera. A thermal camera developed for security and defence are used to detect threats and give situational awareness. We don’t care that two trees with different temperatures will have different colors – we care about the person standing between them. We manipulate the image, so the viewer has a better understanding of what he sees. With thermometric measurement (as in – thermal temperature reading) we do the exact opposite. We want accurate temperatures readings for each pixel in our screen. A thermometric camera will go through a rigorous calibration together with the lens, which often takes longer. We need to offset, in the calibration tables, minute pixel-sized blemishes in the detector and lens. Those blemishes would be invisible in a thermal image – but can skew the temperature reading and produce inaccurate results. We regularly see suppliers who are using regular thermal cameras with blackbodies to auto adjust the temperature reading as described above. But, if you take that same blackbody and move it a meter to one side, you may discover the camera suddenly registers a different temperature – as not all pixels have a uniform calibration. Does it matter where we scan in humans? Yes and no. The inner canthus of the eye (the tear duct) is the most relevant external point with the best correlation to internal temperature. People looking at the inner canthus will manage to avoid a lot of the effects of ambient temperature on the skin. The tradeoff is that the inner canthus is a tiny area, and people would need to remove their glasses. Most of the world’s health organisations consider the difference between a healthy and sick individual to be 1.5° C (or 2.7° F). That change is consistent whether you’re looking at the tear duct, the forehead or a mouth. Thus, the solutions that look at the gradient temperature (population-based solutions) are just as effective when measuring the ambient temperature on the skin of the population tested.  Do people need to stop in front of the camera? Not necessarily. It depends on the speed of the camera and the temperature detection algorithm. Some cameras can detect people walking very quickly as they only need a few frames to detect the temperature. Will the camera work outdoors? Most outdoor cameras will suffer from false alarms and misses. Some cameras have very advanced compensation algorithms for this, but they can’t take into account all the dynamic temperature changes, humidity, sporadic energy readings and the “bane of thermal imaging” - turbulence. Therefore, the conditions can strain even the most advanced algorithm.  Why invest in this technology? The WHO states, that while asymptomatic transmission exists, it’s much less contagious then symptomatic transmission. Some doctors claim that a person with a fever sheds the virus five times more aggressively than a person with no fever.  There are clear regulations for businesses to screen individuals for fever In some countries, there are clear regulations for businesses to screen individuals for fever as they come into the establishment. While you can have a person in the entrance with a contactless thermometer, they must stop people for a 5-second check each time they come in. That would cause long lines in many places with high traffic. And, during testing, standing less than 2 meters from the individual would throw social distancing out the window. If the tester got sick, the next day they would start endangering everyone else they checked. It’s better to screen automatically and only use the IR thermometer in cases where an alert was triggered and needed to be verified. Various forms of technology  We’ve also seen much use of the IR tablets recently. While they are low cost, a person usually needs to stand very close (less than 1 meter) from the monitor to be caught by the camera. Thus, spreading his germs on the glass or plastic cover of the tablet while being screened.  In conclusion – Thermal EBT cameras are important. They aren’t a miracle cure, and they won’t stop the spread of the virus. And one should be careful of false promises. But along with other solutions (most importantly – masks), they can help protect us during these times and allow the wounded global economy to rejuvenate itself.

Beyond Video Analytics, What Are the Benefits of AI and Machine Learning?
Beyond Video Analytics, What Are the Benefits of AI and Machine Learning?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have made a big splash in the physical security market, transforming video analytics to a new level of accuracy. In fact, the terms have become common buzzwords throughout the industry. However, the potential for AI and machine learning to impact the physical security industry goes far beyond their ability to improve video analytics. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Beyond better video analytics, how can artificial intelligence (AI) and/or machine learning benefit the physical security market?