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Smart Buildings Report 2: (cont'd) LobbyTech - Temperature Screening, Mask Detection, Social Distancing AI and Low-touch Hospitality


The lobby has become a major frontline in a building's defence against pandemic.
mask detection, social distancing detection, temperature screening
Lobby Robots & IoT: Temperature Screening, Mask and Social Distancing Detection (image under CC BY 4.0 International license)
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the two functions commonly seen in lobbies are the visitor service desk and the security checkpoint.
Today, we can see a plethora of new functions - temperature screening, mask detection, social distance detection, people flow control and perhaps a hand sanitizer station or two. Even the traditional visitor registration process at the visitor service desk is beginning to evolve into a touch-less process.
Infrared thermal scanners, along with hand-held thermometer guns, are now ubiquitous sightings at building lobbies, screening the body temperature of anyone wishing to enter the building premises.
The purpose of temperature screening is to identify febrile persons with high body temperature and prevent them from entering the building. However, it is worth noting that temperature screening is a limited form of prevention, as it does not prevent non-febrile persons with Covid-19 infection from slipping through the screening, due to the long incubation period (5 to 14 days) of the Covid-19 virus.
Instead of fixed thermal scanners or human-assisted screening, the Antwerp University Hospital in Belgium enlisted the help of the Cruzr robot, provided by robotics firm Zorabot.
Offered with a robot-as-a-service model of €1,000 per month, Cruzr helps screen patients for high temperature, taking workload off the frontline staff. At the same time, Cruzr also checks if the patient is wearing a mask and provides a friendly reminder if a mask is not worn.
Besides Cruzr, Pepper, the famous robotic butler, has also been enhanced with mask-detection abilities. Using its two HD cameras (in the mouth and forehead), Pepper can scan the faces of up to 5 persons in a group concurrently and intelligently flag up anyone who is not wearing a mask.
Mask Detection with Pepper
The world is divided by the most appropriate distance for social distancing. United States (US CDC), Canada, United Kingdom and many countries adopted a policy of "1 meter plus" to 2 meters, while the World Health Organization recommends a physical distance of 1 meters (observed by China, Denmark, Lithuania, Singapore & others).
Regardless of the adopted distance, equally important is the ability to enforce such distancing measures. Tech firms and research institutions have been exploring the use of computer vision and AI to be able to detect social-distance violations in real-time.
Social Distancing Detection by Landing AI
Landing AI, founded by Dr. Andrew Ng (founding lead of the Google Brain team and former Chief Scientist at Baidu), is one of the leading AI firms that have rolled out solutions for AI-enabled social distancing detection.
In an effort to contain the Covid-19 outbreak while cautiously opening up the economy, governments around the world have imposed limits on the number of people that can visit or gather in stores, offices, eating places and others.
This has led to the adoption of people counting solutions that have flow control features. Each visitor entering, for example, a store, is counted and when the number of visitors within the store has reached the legal limit, the next person will be requested to wait until one or more visitors leave the store.
People Counting & Flow Control Solution by Dahua
The typical pre-Covid-19 process which a visitor arrives and checks in has several touch-points (literally). Upon arrival, the visitor registers personal information with the receptionist and indicates which company or person he or she intends to meet. The receptionist may then issue a physical pass to the visitor who is required to return the pass upon leaving the premises.
In short, a process that has cross contact between visitor and receptionist, and foreign surface contact with the physical pass which may have been held by several prior visitors.
Thus, new low-touch registration processes now observe the principles of no direct person-to-person contact and no foreign surface contact.
No-touch Visitor Registration/Check-in
Fortunately, the evolution of smartphone technologies and mobile apps for the past thirteen years has come in handy for this occasion. Visitors basically perform self-registration using mobile apps on their own phones (no foreign-surface contact). Once registration is successfully performed, these apps then notify the relevant stakeholders of the visitor's arrival.

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