Abu Dhabi Is Now Using Facial Scanners to Test COVID-19 in Public

The new technology provides near-instantaneous results with 90.3 percent accuracy.
Loukia Papadopoulos

The United Arab Emirates' Abu Dhabi Department of Health has approved the use of special facial scanners in public areas in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. The decision goes into effect today.

If the scanners spot a person as being potentially infected with COVID-19, the individual will not be permitted to enter the area and will be forced to take a PCR test within 24 hours to confirm or deny the scanner's diagnosis.

The technology is referred to as EDE scanners and was previously trialed at various locations in the emirate, including the Ghantout entry point, select public locations on Yas Island, and entry/exit points in the Musaffah area. 

More than 20,000 people were tested showcasing that EDE scanners work with 90.3 percent sensitivity when identifying infected individuals and 83 percent accuracy when identifying non-infected individuals.

The technology works by measuring electromagnetic waves which are altered when the RNA particles of the COVID-19 virus are present. It can therefore provide near-instantaneous results.

His Excellency Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary at Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi has adopted an integrated strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, based on increased testing to ensure safe entry into the emirate, vaccination, and the continued implementation of precautionary measures."

“We are pleased to add EDE scanning technology made in Abu Dhabi to the precautionary measures, helping to create safer areas and maintain public health. The EDE scanners will be used alongside other approved testing methods, such as PCR and DPI.”

The scanners work by being placed within 5 meters of a person's face and scanning them. It then takes but a few seconds for the scanner to send a message to the scanning smartphone. 

A green message indicates the person is COVID-19-free while a red one indicates signs of infection. Of course, there is a 17 percent chance that a non-infected individual will be falsely scanned. That is where the PCR testing comes in.

The technology is reminiscent of the COVID Hunter announced last February. This device was the world's first non-contact portable viral detector and is allegedly capable of detecting the coronavirus instantly in people and on surfaces.

Devices such as these are taking a big step forward in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and helping people stay safe during these trying times.

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