Beware of Defective, Wrongly Manufactured IR Thermometers

There is a lot of demand for medical supplies and equipment due to COVID-19. IR Thermometers are used to check the temperature of people before entering a building for instance and are also in short supply.

So factories are frantically mass-producing everything they can from face masks to IR thermometers, and it looks like some may forgo quality control.  The latter are very hard to find in Thailand, but one person managed to purchase an IR thermometer online and decided to open it…

[Update April 16th 2020: The Facebook video has been taken, but still available on Youtube]

This Heaco MDI908 medical thermometer’s infrared board is not connected to the mainboard, so it “works” even without the IR sensor… This takes “non-contact infrared thermometer” to a whole new level 🙂

Defective IR Thermometer

I can see Kaidee (Thailand’s eBay) had some listed a few days, but the pages have since then been taken down. What I believe to be the company’s website (heaco dot ua) appears to have been taken down too. [Update April 16th 2020: The website is accessible again, and the company has been around for several years, so it appears to be a fake product using Heaco brand.  A comment on YouTube reads:

For sure it’s fake. Heaco haven’t any devices with 308 part number. And «Aiana3oH Temnepatypn tina” sign on the box – this is typical chinese transliteration from ukrainian “Діапазон температури тіла» with mean “body temperature range” 🙂

]

In any case, if you recently purchased IR thermometers from unknown brands you may want to double-check they work properly. It’s always possible they forgot to solder that one, but since many factories are repurposed for a completely different type of product, the manufacturers may just not know what they are doing. Stay safe!

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Zsolt SándorJean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)DroneJaytheguyuk Recent comment authors
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Willy
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Willy

Anyway such IR thermometers are not made for medical use and lack a lot of precision. I’ve been possessing one for a few years now that I’ve been mostly using for de-soldering work, and when aimed at the human body the results depend on lots of factors.

First they can be used only on exposed parts, which are also heated or cooled down by the surrounding air, so instead you measure something like an average between the skin’s temperature and the room’s temperature.

Second, if your skin is highly reflective (e.g. because you’re sweating) and a thermal source is closed to you, like a radiator on the wall or sun rays through the window, you will reflect a part of these IR rays and perturb the measure as well.

Third, nobody’s really able to control the accuracy so I suspect none of them is tuned and if you pick 3 you’ll get 3 different readings. Aiming at boiling water will show anything between 90 and 105 degrees C (which will also depend on the reflectivity factor that you can usually set, often 0.95).

Even by aiming inside the mouth it’s hard to get the same reading twice, it can easily vary by more than one degree, I guess the “image” taken to perform the measure is too wide and doesn’t match at all what’s indicated by the laser dots.

Overall these may possibly be used to compare two readings between different persons or maybe the same person under similar conditions over several days, but that’s about all.

I suspect that a DS18B20 connected to an Arduino or Buspirate would be far more effective for those who have the required hardware.

Antonym
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Antonym

Even IF a perfect IR thermometer for medical use would exist, it would show a lot of false negatives for COVID-19 carriers. In Europe many hospital nurses without fever – but with this virus- continued working and infected a lot of weakened patients resulting in high mortality stats.
The usage in airports is more a token act: “Look we are doing something!”.

Jay
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Jay

Its to identify the cases that are red flags, off the chart, mostly covering their own behind-ism rather than actual virus fight.

Drone
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Drone

“Aiming at boiling water will show anything between 90 and 105 degrees C (which will also depend on the reflectivity factor that you can usually set, often 0.95.”

The correct term is “Emissivity”. See here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissivity

theguyuk
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theguyuk

Are they made by a division of orange pi.

Zsolt Sándor
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Zsolt Sándor

The product seen in a video too is a fake one, the product description is an awful reproduction of “Cyrillic”. The Heaco website operates without issue, and you can check it’s a legit company, the website has been archived since 2014: https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://heaco.ua/

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