Smile For The Camera

Smile For The Camera

By John Swartz

As area businesses find out what opening on a restricted basis is going to be like (curbside pickup only) and others prepare for what seems to be inevitable additional easing of restrictions, one business is ready to sort potential COVID-19 virus carriers from the rest of us.

John Menear of the Divorce Centre installed a Provix COVID Camera.

“It’s a thermal scanner. I think that they all work on infrared, but they changed the technology quite a bit since 2005, which was the last time they tried to use them when the SARS outbreak happened. They were effective, but not great. Now they can pretty much hit your temperature right on,” said Menear.

The camera has a 5 inch video screen and software which isolates a person’s face as captured by the 1080P camera. Seconds later you get an OK, or an alarm goes off. The alarm is a warning the subject has a temperature above normal.

“They way it works is your core body temperature on average is 37 degrees. Your forehead and facial temperature is 36 degrees Celsius, so if it registers you above 37 an alarm goes off,” said Menear.

“It used to be this technology would cost $15,000 which is beyond the range of what anybody can afford, but these little cameras, it’s a 5 inch unit, and they priced it at $2,400. Well, for $2,400 any small retailer who is interested can afford that.”

The device made by Provix Inc. of New Lowell, Ontario (west of Barrie) can determine body temperature in less than a second. It can also do facial recognition and comes as a 7 inch portable model as well. Provix originated as the developer of a low cost backup camera system for general automotive use (previously only available for garbage trucks and RVs and expensive).

“They just launched it two weeks ago and the guy (Provix president, Dave Winfield) told me they’ve been in the business 20 years doing thermal scanning in the mining industry. He said Bruce nuclear (generating station) bought 20 units, and some other fairly large companies. And then I heard Amazon has also installed thermal cameras and I thought I was in good company,” said Menear.

“It’s not a perfect answer, but it’s better than leaving your place completely exposed. The reality for us is a lot of our clients are self employed or are in the trades and they can’t afford at a time of separation and divorce, there’s a financial challenge anyways, and they can’t afford to be getting sick, so I thought we need to do what we can to protect people.”

As a lawyer, Menear is used to researching and reading a lot material. With the amount of free time he’s had lately, a news story about a British Columbia store caught his eye.

“There was an article posted last week about a liquor store in Vancouver that installed one, so I started looking around,” he said. He found a supplier in California, and one just around the corner – so to speak.

“I was like, “that’s my neighbor,” so I reached out to them.”

Of course, at the moment until people develop symptoms there is little opportunity to get a test to find out if one has the virus and Menear knows that, but he thinks the benefit goes beyond screening for people who are developing a fever.

“I thought, ”you know what? Whether it’s COVID, or the flu or some other thing that’s causing a fever – I still don’t want you in my office,”” he said. “The issue is public health. If somebody has a fever, you should go home.”

His partner in life, Anitta Hamming, will be installing one in Creative Nomad Studios when it opens.

“I think this is going to be around for a while and until everything opens up, we’re in the long haul for this. We could have a bit of a down-surge and then an up-tick of it again,” said Hamming.


(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) John Menear tests his COVID Camera.

Support Independent Journalism