B-N Businessman Pivots To Temperature Scanners To Ease Reopening | WGLT

B-N Businessman Pivots To Temperature Scanners To Ease Reopening

May 28, 2020

A Bloomington businessman says his new company’s temperature scanners may help speed up reopening the economy by giving workers and customers peace of mind.

Krishna Balakrishnan is managing partner at Parke Regency Hotel & Conference Center in east Bloomington. But he leaned into his training as an engineer in India to launch Raptor PPE, which sells contactless temperature scanners developed in Texas and made in China. The scanners can be installed in hotel lobbies, courthouse security checkpoints, or employee entrances to see if someone has a fever—one of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Krishna Balakrishnan is also managing partner at Parke Regency Hotel & Conference Center in east Bloomington.
Credit Ryan Denham / WGLT

Balakrishnan acknowledged the technology’s limitations. Not everyone carrying the virus is symptomatic. You can reduce a fever with acetaminophen. And the temperature of a person’s skin can be different from their core body heat.

“Just the temperature alone is not going to solve the problem,” Balakrishnan said. “But it’s going to mitigate it, and keep the place safe and do our due diligence. We’re making sure we’re capturing the temperatures of visitors and employees to see if they have the next level of symptoms.”

Raptor sells three levels of contactless temperature scanners, from a basic model costing $1,495 to a full-body scanner that runs nearly $20,000.

A fever does not 100% mean you have COVID-19. But anyone showing a fever could be pulled aside to be rescanned or undergo additional screening, such as a health questionnaire.

Balakrishnan said he plans to set up one of these scanners in his hotel lobby.

“And unfortunately, if the answer is ‘yes’ for all those, then probably we’ll deny entry because we’re keeping safety in mind for other people. And we’re trying to do that for employees as well,” he said.

The “need of the hour” is a reliable way to screen employees, Balakrishnan said. Indeed, the CDC says temperature checks are among the optional screening methods that employers may use, along with other tactics like “a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.”

But on balance, public health specialists think temperature checks at workplaces may make us feel as if adequate precautions are being taken—without actually accomplishing much.

Shankar Ramakrishnan, co-founder of Raptor, said the technology is still important for businesses that don’t know how much longer the pandemic will last.

“I know it’s an extra process, an extra step, an extra expense. But as (Balakrishnan) realized, the sooner he puts this in his hotel, then he can advertise, ‘We’re taking every step to protect employees and customers checking into the hotel.’ It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.

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