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GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina A&T State University students and faculty are working to develop thermal detection devices to monitor fevers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graduate students from the Computational Data Science and Engineering and Civil Engineering departments created two prototypes using a $298,000 grant from the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory.

“The current fever detection systems on the market are so expensive, some of the cheaper models are about $3,000, some of the more expensive models can be upwards of about $100,000,” Dr. Ray Tesiero said. “K-12 schools do not have a budget for these fever detection systems.”

The first model, the Aggie Thermometer Arm, takes forehead readings from a device that can be adjusted based on someone’s height.

“This system is safer than your average thermometers because it allows the person to be in a different room, safe away from the actual temperature check,” student Jon Steele said.

The system cost the team just $150 to create.

The second prototype is the Aggie Thermal Eye, which uses a camera to take temperature from tear ducts, and projects a thermal image onto a computer screen.

“For the more accurate model it’s better to consider the temperature from the tear ducts than the forehead,” said Yaa Ackouaah, a student working on development.

The project is still in the working stages, and Tesiero said the team would like to make further improvements.

“We’re going to also develop one that has an intercom station for K-12 schools where to come in the front door you have to push an intercom, we’re going to incorporate a camera into that,” he said.

Ultimately, the university cannot sell the devices, but they can patent their designs.

“I think it would be a really good learning tool for K-12 science teachers, where if some of the schools have 3-D printing capabilities or they could come to the university and we could print the parts for them as some sort of science instruction,” Tesiero said.