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Austin-based company creates thermal camera that could help detect coronavirus

The founders of Athena Security told KVUE the thermal imaging camera can scan 1,000 people per hour, letting them know instantly if you have a fever.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin-based company Athena Security has shifted from detecting concealed guns to detecting temperatures. 

The company first created the thermal imaging camera to detect guns concealed under clothes after having hundreds of mass shootings. The product was used in schools, churches and businesses. 

That same product is now being used to fight a different battle: the spread of coronavirus.

"What happens is you put the camera through an entrance-way, people walk in and it tells their temperature," said Athena co-founder Christopher Ciabarra. "After it finds a temperature above 99 degrees, it sets the alarm and it will send it to the app."

One of the symptoms of coronavirus is having a fever. 

Ciabarra said the camera scans your eyes to get your body temperature and the measurements are within a half degree of accuracy. 

"Right now, you have a person sitting at a screen watching the doorways all day long, but with our product, you can have 10 doorways and you don't need 10 people watching the screen," said Ciabarra.


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One of the first companies to use the fever detection system is Capital Factory, a co-working space in Austin. 

Ciabarra said they have over 1,000 orders to fill and hopes the product will bring ease to the public.

"A lot of people are going to be afraid to go outside after all of this, but having a system that will be able to tell if someone has a fever or not will help them go back into society and be comfortable sitting at restaurants again and knowing someone doesn't have a fever said," said Ciabarra.

Ciabarra said the thermal camera cost $8,900. The company is working on a low cost option that will be slower but cheaper at $2,000, Ciabarra added.

“What’s happening is we are going to see a big change in America," said Ciabarra. "You are going to see this become a regular thing at every social gathering you have, supermarkets restaurants and any social gathering."

WATCH: Austin-based company uses thermal camera that could help detect coronavirus


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