Since the declaration of the state of emergency in Spain due to COVID-19, according to data provided by the regions, over 17,000 care home users have died from coronavirus or similar symptoms.
In this context, researchers from the University of Alicante Group in Robotics and Three-Dimensional Vision (RoViT) are designing a system to improve effectiveness in controlling the disease by automatically measuring two of its main symptoms: fever and coughing.
To rapidly detect any coronavirus-related symptoms, care homes allocate many human resources in order to control fever and coughing manually and individually.
The system we have designed is intended to reduce the time devoted by staff to this task."
Miguel Cazorla, Professor of Computer Engineering, University of Alicante
The integrated system for symptom detection designed by the UA research team, formed by Miguel Cazorla, Félix Escalona, Francisco Gómez and Ester Martínez, consists of a set of cameras for identifying care home users, measuring fever with a thermographic camera, and detecting coughing through artificial intelligence and by analyzing images based on models of people coughing.
"The cameras are placed in a strategic passage area to control body temperature and the exact location of anyone in the care home. Besides, with this monitoring system we can know the activity each user is performing and whether they coughed", Cazorla explains. When a cough or fever is detected, the system automatically sends an alert to the care home staff.
One of the main innovations of the system proposed by the University of Alicante researchers is that it is based on a non-invasive method.
In other words, Cazorla says, "users do not have to carry any technological devices, and no one holding a thermographic camera has to take users' temperature. Furthermore, the system integrates and processes all information using a single application and is able to detect coughing, an aspect that no technology currently controls".
The research team is already working on a prototype to be installed and validated at a care home in Alicante city this summer. While the system is targeted at this sector, severely hit by the pandemic, the UA researchers point out that it could be installed in any establishment with restricted admission and monitoring symptoms to curb the spreading of coronavirus.