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April 7, 2020 10:15 am

Israeli Face Recognition Startup AnyVision to Deploy Thermal Cameras at Tel Aviv Hospital

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avatar by Omer Kabir / CTech

Israeli firefighters wearing protective clothes disinfect Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2020, as part of measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Photo: Flash90.

CTech – In the upcoming days, Israel-based artificial intelligence-based face recognition startup AnyVision Interactive Technologies will deploy thermal cameras at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital), the company’s chief operating officer Alex Zilberman told Calcalist. The cameras can measure body temperature from a distance and are capable of determining whether a high temperature is caused by disease or by another cause such as physical activity.

“The system will be able to identify potential coronavirus (Covid-19) carriers at the entrance and before they arrive at locations where they might infect a large number of people,” Zilberman said.

Measuring body temperature at the entrance to hospitals and shopping centers has become a routine measure throughout the world since the outbreak of coronavirus. However, current tests are done manually and one at a time, two issues addressed by AnyVision’s system. In addition, the commonly used thermometer guns only measure the temperature of the face and cannot differentiate between the different causes that could bring the temperature up. This being the case, a person arriving at his destination after a bike ride, for example, might be mistaken as ill.

AnyVision’s system is based on MiniPOP thermal cameras provided by Israeli government-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The technology was originally developed for military warships and drones.

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What is special about the system is the ability to use the heat pattern created by the body to understand the reason its temperature went up, said Zilberman. “In the future, we will be able to use this system wherever there are large public gatherings, like airports, stadiums and train stations and passively check who has a fever,” he added.

Founded in 2015, AnyVision develops software for real-time face and object recognition in large crowds using AI and machine-learning algorithms. The company’s technology can interface with security cameras for security at airports and stadiums, also offering service to the private sector, including retailers.

AnyVision has been going through a rough patch over the past few weeks and has had to place dozens of its employees on unpaid leave after Microsoft’s investment arm M12 announced it decided to divest its stake in the company. M12 decided to back down from its participation in the startup’s $74 million series A round, following various media reports about AnyVision’s technology being used by Israeli forces to surveil Palestinians in the West Bank. In November, Microsoft announced it has hired Covington & Burling and former US Attorney General Eric Holder to look into whether the use of AnyVision’s facial recognition technology met its ethical principles. The results of the investigation, published last month, stated that “the available evidence demonstrated that AnyVision’s technology has not previously and does not currently power a mass surveillance program in the West Bank that has been alleged in media reports. As such, Covington could not substantiate a breach of the Microsoft global finance portfolio company pledge on facial recognition.”

According to Zilberman, the thermal system does not have any face recognition privacy issues as the photos collected are taken by a thermal camera making it impossible to identify the people pictured in them. “This is not a security camera or face recognition tech,” Zilberman said. “There is no way to take these videos and use them to identify a person. The technology does not allow it. There is no feature that someone can pay for and then identify people. It is impossible.”

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