At UW-Madison, contactless thermometer helps monitor student health

When Lennon Rodgers visited the dentist in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had a moment of inspiration. The receptionist awkwardly reached around the plexiglass barrier to take his temperature, which seemed to negate some of the safety precautions.

An automated, contactless thermometer, he thought, would be a much better solution. “I knew there had to be a way to develop a low-cost solution to take forehead temperatures hands-free,” says Rodgers, who already has played a major role in COVID-19 PPE innovations. “I looked online and found some existing products, but they were all pretty expensive and/or looked poor quality.”

So Rodgers, director of the Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, created a prototype of a “contactless” thermometer himself by borrowing the sensor from a commercially available thermometer and adding a microcontroller and distance sensor controlled by open-source code.

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