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McMaster startup partners with Hamilton grocery store to pilot temperature screening technology for COVID-19April 21, 2020

Local businesses have one more way to keep customers and employees safe from COVID-19, thanks to technology developed by a Hamilton start-up with tight ties to McMaster.

Longan Vision, a company made up of engineering alumni and current students, have created a scanning device based on temperature-sensing technology the company had originally intended to help firefighters.

“It was a bit of an ah-ha moment as our team realized we could take the technology we have been developing for firefighters in a headset format to a workstation format that could be deployed almost anywhere,” said Enzo Jia, CEO and Co-Founder of Longan Vision and a Mechanical Engineering Master’s graduate.

Gatekeeper is made up of a thermal imaging camera and a normal camera which reads the temperature of the subject in view. A measurement component provides a fixed temperature of 37 C and acts as a reference point for accurate body temperature measurements. Computer software takes the information from the cameras and produces a visual image of the temperatures that are above 37 C.

The startup, which works out of The Forge, is set to start piloting the device at Nations Fresh Foods grocery store in downtown Hamilton.

“We want to give back to our community, and we feel utilizing our engineering strengths to provide a tool is a great way to do so,” said Jia. 

The pilot involves monitoring the device’s usability and reliability. It will be set up as a workstation at the front entrance of the store. Customers will be advised when to step in front of the camera to be scanned, which takes seconds. Nations staff monitoring the workstation will be alerted if a person has an elevated temperature or not.

Jia said it’s up to the Nations staff on how to proceed if the technology detects an elevated temperature and he stresses that the system does not detect COVID-19, but acts as another resource to help the public in this time of need.

Longan Vision was initially developing their augmented reality visor that allows firefighters to see through smoke and share images with a command centre. It features fire source detection, a real-time communication system and indoor localization that helps firefighters keep themselves and others safe. 

Their innovative efforts were recognized this past January when they won a national research bid for a $200K contract from Innovation Solutions Canada, funded by the Department of National Defence.

The company hopes to continue to build relationships with other supermarkets, businesses and organizations that can benefit from Gatekeeper.