Police in China, Dubai, and Italy are using surveillance helmets to scan people for COVID-19 fever

Chinese police, health staff, and transport workers have been using smart helmets to monitor people for high temperatures in the fight against COVID-19.

The helmets are made by Chinese firm KC Wearable and use thermal imaging to take people’s temperatures at a distance of around two meters.

The helmets are now popping up across the world, and the company told BI they are being rolled out to police in Italy and Dubai, with other Western governments showing interest.

Experts say thermal scanning can be a good way to measure for fever, but question how effective such measures would be as some people affected by COVID-19 are asymptomatic and won’t run a temperature.

Yahoo reports the video starts with appropriately menacing music. On the left is a motionless police officer, face hidden by an outsized helmet with a camera mounted on top. On the right is the live feed from the helmet itself, showing people walking around in face masks. A number displays above their heads as they move around — their live body temperature, as captured by the helmet’s infrared camera.

This is a YouTube video advertising the wares of KC Wearable, one of many Chinese companies pushing futuristic surveillance tech to keep track of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Its KC N901 smart helmet is equipped with an ARM processor, an augmented reality display screen, an infrared camera, and a visible light camera. According to device specifications seen by Business Insider, the wearer can detect the temperature, to within 0.3 degrees Celsius, of passers-by within around two meters.

A law enforcement officer wearing the helmet could do any of the following: Measure the temperature of a specific individual; measure the temperatures of people passing by in larger crowds; scan a person’s QR code for personal data; recognize license plates; spot people in the dark; or recognize people using facial recognition.

Any information captured is stored on the helmet itself, the company says.

According to KC Wearable’s global chief, Dr Jie Guo, more than 1,000 helmets are already in use across China. One unnamed country, she said, has ordered hundreds of helmets and more international deals are coming. The helmets cost between $5,000 to $7,000 per unit.

She added that customers put in early orders for samples, tested the devices out, and then put in larger orders.

The company says it has sent helmets to Italy’s carabinieri military police and to the Dutch government for testing. Police are also using the devices in Dubai.

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