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All You Need is Love (and an Infrared Imaging System!)

Most of us are not involved with using thermal imaging in medicine; although worldwide the application is large and growing every year. Thermal patterns in humans are fairly predictable and changes from the norm can be highly telling when the images are properly interpreted by trained medical professionals. Of course, as is also true in PdM or building sciences, problems creep up when unqualified people become involved. We saw plenty of that during both the SARS and H1/N1 outbreaks when, in the rush to deploy the technology into the field, many mistakes were made with equipment, deployment and the interpretation of thermal images.

Two standards have now been developed and published, one by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC 80601-2-59, Medical electrical equipment — Part 2-59: Particular requirements for the basic safety and essential performance of screening thermographs for human febrile temperature screening) and the other by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (ISO/TR 13154:2009, Medical electrical equipment — Deployment, implementation and operational guidelines for identifying febrile humans using a screening thermograph). We can only hope that thermography can be more effectively used in future pandemics because the potential returns are immense. See a more detailed discussion of fever screening for pandemics on our website.

A pile of cold mail (left) and a special letter revealed by a bit of active thermography!

Moving on to the “heart” of this blog post—next week is Valentine’s Day! There may not be international standards for using thermal imaging on 2/14 but it can be useful. For instance, I can easily use active thermography to locate “hot” letters in the mail. I also had a good time demonstrating the power of the infrared technology with friends, a couple who have been married for many, many years. I was able to show them how the “spark of love” is still alive. I even took an informal survey of folks walking on the street, showing that a few have “cold hearts.” We can only hope that they heat up a bit next week!

My dear friends, Helen and Jules, proving that love can grow even stronger in a long, long marriage!

If you find yourself in Montpelier, Vermont, you’ll be greeted by the Valentine Phantom. Every year for the past ten years we’ve woken to thousands of red hearts plastered all over town. A few days later they all disappear. Perhaps I can set up an infrared imager this year and catch the Phantom in the act, but I’d hate to ruin all the fun!

Wherever you are next Monday, may you find warm hearts and a Thermally Pleasant day!

The coffee shop at the corner of State and Main streets in Montpelier on Valentine’s morning—just a few of the thousands of hearts posted by the Phantom every year!


Here are images of the aftermath of the Valentine Phantom in the town of Montepelier, fresh from this morning!

Valentine Phantom hard at work in Montpelier...

The Valentine Phantom even got the Fire station!

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

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