Why Hotels Will Need to Go Beyond Temp Checks
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as an unwanted catalyst that has pushed us light years ahead into how we address disease monitoring and prevention. Although virtually every industry has been forced to create innovative solutions to ensure survival, the travel and hospitality sectors certainly received the lion’s share of the challenge. And restoring guests' trust is no small feat. In fact, only 19% of travelers confirm that they feel confident in booking a trip in the upcoming months.
Time is of the essence for hotels to implement practices that will enable the health and safety of guests. One important step is leveraging digital health solutions such as vital signs monitoring. Today, one of the most common practices for many retailers is to require guests to wear a mask if they enter the facility and to report if they have experienced any symptoms related to COVID-19. An extra measure of precaution is to conduct a temperature check upon arrival. While helpful, studies show temperature check alone is not enough for determining if a person is showing symptoms of COVID-19. Accurate measurements such as oxygen saturation, respiration rate and heart rate variability in combination with symptoms such as fever or sore throat, can help in determining the guests’ wellbeing and increase protection from invisible invaders.
The key to adopting any added precautions, especially vital signs monitoring, by both the hotel and guests is to ensure that the technology is accurate, easy to implement and noninvasive. While this may seem like a tall order, this technology already exists and has been in use across the globe, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Binah.ai can extract medical-grade vital signs through video of a person’s face using a smart device like a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Adopting tools that provide this level of accuracy is critical to building trust among guests. While there are a myriad of tools that have been propelled forward amid the pandemic for preventing the spread of the disease, it is important to consider what companies or organizations are currently using and how. This technology has been integrated into multiple company platforms across the globe, from hospitals such as Jewish General Hospital where tests are conducted to check the app’s capability to battle COVID-19, as well as providing trusted vital readings within the National Football League Alumni My Health Lab application. The Back to Work application, expected to launch shortly, uses this same AI-powered technology that can be connected to a thermal imaging camera to provide a temperature check in tandem with vital signs. This allows a reading of heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiration rate, heart rate variability and mental stress levels – all in under two minutes, just by looking at the device’s camera.
This type of rapid, accurate testing can be easily integrated into hotels’ processes to offer an additional layer of protection. From having guests scan before check-ins or having hotels install tablet stands in community areas such as the lobby, bar, gym or pool, this allows for multiple check points of protection. The technology is completely contact-less and works on any skin tone, age or gender – even if a guest has glasses, a mask or facial hair. Because there are no required attachments, such as finger clips or cuffs, and no tedious, self-reported surveys needed – which take time and can unknowingly provide inaccurate information – this is an ideal way to provide an increased level of protection of both guests and staff, with minimum disruption.
Guests rely on hotels for safety as much as they do for privacy. Ensuring that the technology protects health information is critical. Currently, the technology analyzes a video taken from the upper cheek region of the face. No video is taken of a person’s eyes or any other identifiable feature and the solution only registers results of the monitoring, not the video itself. The technology uses remote photoplethysmography (rPPG) and applies a unique mix of signal processing, AI technologies and a proprietary mathematical back-end to analyze video taken from the person’s face.
This is not the first time an industry went through a major transformation for the sake of security. Prior to 9/11, airline security checks did not entail the additional layer of scanning. Today, passengers have adapted to the process and can have peace of mind when doing so. Similar to an airline scan that determines if anything is inside a passenger’s luggage that might be harmful, hotels and airlines are implementing vital signs monitoring to determine what’s inside a guest’s body.
As industry leaders play their part in helping us get to a place where travel for business or pleasure becomes routine again, staying ahead of the curve with the latest technologies is important. Although we are all adjusting to a new normal, reintroducing travel and hotel stays is important for the health of the economy and for the health of people. And we must do it in a way that is safe for everyone.
About the Author
David spearheads the team in fulfilling Binah.ai’s vision and mission. A seasoned speaker and international industry leader, David is a serial entrepreneur who has taken numerous start-ups from vision to international success: Hexatier (acquired by Huawei), Precos, Vanadium-soft, GreenCloud, Teridion and others. Binah.ai is his 13th start-up where David sets the strategy and manages the execution of the company's mission to enable healthcare services to anyone, anywhere.