How IoT is helping businesses navigate COVID-19

Aridea's Fever Kit uses infrared sensors to create a contactless temperature-taking experience for professionals.

How IoT is helping businesses navigate COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has placed the spotlight on the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, with many businesses using IoT applications as a means of adapting to the new normal. The majority of organizations are ramping up tech solutions in the wake of COVID-19, with 70% of companies confirming they will either be maintaining or increasing digital transformation spending, an IFS report found

SEE: 5 Internet of Things (IoT) innovations (free Pdf) (TechRepublic)

"I've seen a lot of IoT use cases pop up in response to the virus. I saw someone created an app for the Apple watch that can tell when you raise your hands toward your face, to keep you from touching your face," said Rob Moore, vice president of solutions development at Aridea Solutions, an IoT provider. 

One area IoT is playing a significant role during the coronavirus is in contactless interactions. Aridea Solutions, for example, recently released its Fever Kit, a no-touch, portable device designed to screen users for fever. 

Aridea is an example of a company that was quick to notice the need for IoT with the coronavirus. Previously, Aridea focused IoT efforts on environmental monitoring, but seized the opportunity to create an infrared sensor-based IoT tool for professionals. 

"The power of IoT is demonstrated in the speed and flexibility it allows," Moore said. "We were able to take technology tailored toward monitoring environmental threats to other species and quickly adapt to monitoring and mitigating a direct threat to our own species."

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How the Fever Kit works 

"[The Fever Kit] is a small microcontroller platform, a little box, five inches by five inches. It has six data ports on the bottom that you can hook various sensors to. We use one of those ports for the infrared sensor," Moore said. "Then we have an LED wand that we use for the other port to give an indication of a good or bad temperature, when the person steps in front of it." 

Companies can use this device as a quick, secure, verified way of taking an employee's temperature, which is critical as fever is a symptom of COVID-19. Businesses considering reopening could place this mechanism at the front door of their office, where it can independently screen and track each employee who passes through. 

"You just step right up to it. Within five seconds, it gives you an indication of green or red, [as well as] a little a beep if [the temperature] is good and a buzzer if it's bad," Moore said.

"It's completely non-contact, which was what we were going for, because we were hearing horror stories of people with the handheld thermometers that you buy at Lowe's or Home Depot, that are not even designed for human temperature, trying to take people's temperature and having to get within six feet of them," Moore said.  

Aridea was able to develop the product in only a few weeks, selling about 200 Fever Kits to high-profile companies including Toyota and Georgia Pacific. 

One organization that is using the product firsthand is Metro 911 of Kanawha County, West Virginia. 

Prior to using the Fever Kit, Metro 911 was using handheld thermometers, which required a second trained person to administer the thermometer and log the temperature, said Russell Emrick, deputy director of technology at Metro 911. 

"This was slow, and even with masks and handwashing, required additional potential exposure to the administrator of the test," Emrick said. "The Fever Kit has greatly simplified this process. The immediate benefit is a faster, easier, no-touch process. It has also proven more accurate and consistent than the handheld thermometers, especially on hot days."  

IoT post-pandemic 

IoT products like the Fever Kit are extremely important and helpful during COVID-19, and they may not be going anywhere, Moore said. 

"We think that this is going to be normal now. We think most businesses probably should have been doing this even for flu season," Moore said. "People come into work, they have a fever and they don't realize it, and then they end up contaminating the office. There's lots of sick days that the employers have to payout, just with the common flu. 

"With the coronavirus and new viruses popping up, we think this is sort of going to be the equivalent of how TSA has changed in the wake of 9/11. Now, taking your shoes off at the airport is sort of commonplace," Moore added. "We think all businesses will have some type of temperature screening process from here forward."

For more, check out  With COVID-19 as backdrop, CIOs are playing bigger roles leading digital transformations on TechRepublic. 

Also see