By Heather Brown

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As part of Minnesota’s plan to re-open, the state’s office of Employment and Economic Development is offering guidance to companies. 

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One voluntary recommendation is to conduct temperature checks for employees from six feet away.

The use of this no-touch thermometer technology is already in play in some grocery stores, apartment buildings and workplaces — including Cambria in Le Sueur. Cambria partnered with Minneapolis-based company VenueScreen to activate their screening system.

Any Cambria employee who registers above 99 degrees upon entering the workplace gets further screening. Cambria says it chose that temperature to be conservative.

“All of these things make the employee feel so much more comfortable about coming to work,” Brian Scoggins, Cambria VP of Operations.

Target is also offering infrared forehead thermometers to Minnesota businesses at wholesale cost.

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The devices range from a small $50 device to a several-thousand-dollar camera system. Whether the device is large or small, the technology behind it is the same.

“It’s looking at infrared energy, which is thermal imaging, and so we actually see heat. Everything in the world gives off heat,” said Bill Parrish, founder of Seek Thermal. “You’re warmer than the room you’re in, so you’re actually a lightbulb.”

The camera is essentially taking a picture of the light given off the face. It then measures that light and calibrates it into a temperature reading.

Parrish understands that could come with privacy concerns.

“We don’t save files, so we don’t try to identify anything, but people are walking in front of a camera and they’re having their temperature taken,” he said. “We’re going to, as a society, need to resolve these sort of things.”

Cambria says it isn’t collecting data on individuals, but instead on the averages, and they’re doing so anonymously — which could even be helpful during flu season.

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Heather Brown