The thermal imaging wearables, which are used in China for early detection of COVID-19 symptoms, could soon be deployed in the United States. Hangzhou based AI start-up Rokid is in talks with several companies across the US to sell its T1 glasses, Rokid’s U.S. Director Liang Guan said.
Rokid is a leading Chinese company that is creating effective technology to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which has given a hard blow to the country’s economy. The T1 thermal glasses by Rokid use an infrared sensor to detect temperatures of up to 200 people in two minutes from up to three meters away. The device has a Qualcomm CPU, 12-megapixel camera, and offers augmented reality features for hands-free voice controls to record live photos as well as videos instantly.
The Chinese start-up, that has an office in San Francisco, plans B2B sales of its wearable devices across the United States to assist businesses, hospitals, and law enforcement personnel with COVID-19 detection facilities. Rokid is also offering IoT and software solutions for facial recognition and data management as an essential part of the T1 packages. The company is working on efficient deals with American hospitals and local municipalities to deliver shipments of the smart thermal imaging glasses. One commercial venture that can use the thermal imaging wearables is California based e-commerce company Weee! The online grocer is contemplating in evaluating and using Rokid’s T1 glasses to monitor temperatures of their warehouse employees throughout the day, as confirmed by Weee! Founder Larry Liu.
On procedures and rules to follow after COVID-19 related symptoms that will be determined by end-users Rokid said. “The clients can do the follow-up action, such as giving them a mask or asking to work from home,” Guan said. The T1 glasses can be connected via a USB and can be set up for IoT capabilities for commercial clients to sync to their platforms. The product will capture the attention of U.S. regulators, which have become increasingly wary of Chinese tech firms’ handling of American citizen data. Rokid says it doesn’t collect info from the T1 glasses directly. “Regarding deriving information from citizens, we do not take any data to the cloud. For customers, privacy is essential to them. The data measurement is stored locally,” as per Guan.
Founded in the year 2014 by Eric Wong and Mingming Zhu, Rokid raised $100 million at the Series B level in the year 2018. The business focuses primarily on developing AI and AR tech for applications from manufacturing to gaming, but it established the T1 glasses as an emergency response to China’s COVID-19 outbreak. The goal of the business was to provide companies and authorities a thermal imaging detection tool that is wearable, compact, mobile, and more effective than the standard available options.
Large scanning stations like airports have drawbacks in their thermal imaging devices, “You have to point them to people’s foreheads, you need to be close, it’s not wearable, and you’re not practicing social distancing to use those,” Guang said. Rokid took the lead to create T1 glasses shortly after the COVID-19 broke out in China in late 2019. On Rokid’s motivations, “At the time, we thought something like this can help the frontline people still working,” Guang said.
The T1 product was created in just two months by the engineering team of Rokid. In China, Rokid’s smart glasses have been used by national parks staff, in schools, and by federal authorities to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. As Coronavirus cases and related deaths rise in the United States, technological innovation will emerge as central to the health response and in finding a new normal for personal mobility and economic activity. This will bring fresh faces to the typical tech problems, primarily measuring efficacy and balancing benefits with personal privacy. For its part, Rokid start-up already has new features for the T1 thermal smart glasses in the works. The Chinese start-up plans to upgrade the T1 device to take multiple temperature readings simultaneously for up to four people at one time. “That is not on the market yet, but we will release this very soon as an update,” said Rokid’s U.S. Director Liang Guan.
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