IR thermometers – ideal for medical environments, where time is essential.
Common methods of temperature measurement are rectal, oral and axillary temperature performed with standard thermometers. Taking body temperature with a normal thermometer takes up to 30 to 60 seconds. Fine for private usage – however, infrared thermometers are much better suited to medical applications where time is of the essence.
IR Thermopile Arrays
An IR thermometer focuses light coming from the object in the form of IR rays and funnels this into a detector called a ‘thermopile’. Here, the IR radiation is turned into heat, which is then turned into electricity, which is then measured. The reading is generated in seconds, meaning an infrared thermometer is a quick way to gather a temperature reading in a variety of scenarios.
More on thermopiles…
IR thermometers for body temperature measurements
Skin temperature is a mixture of core body temperature and ambient temperature. It is therefore important to measure a location on the body that gives a core body temperature related value. For clinical application, the measurement range should be from 35.5°C to 42.0°C with an accuracy of ±0.2°C or better. Regarding the infrared emission of the skin at this temperature, peak emission wavelength is of approx. 9.4 µm to 9.2 µm, which is in the far IR range. Thermopiles optimized for highest detectivity in this range are the best choice for this application.
Temperature is generally taken in the ear or on the forehead. Forehead measurements are very clean and comfortable since nothing has to be inserted, and results are available in seconds. These provide accurate measurements very fast – in less than 1 second. During the manual scan, the instrument records hundreds or even thousands of data points and picks the hottest spot to calculate the core body temperature. It is, however, important to understand that measurement accuracy depends on choosing ambient temperatures affect the correct measurement position on the forehead and readings.
Ear IR thermometers are hardly affected by ambient temperature as the sensor is placed close to the skin. The temperature inside the auditory canal is not strongly affected by ambient temperature, allowing for more accurate readings than forehead measurements. Studies link in-ear temperature to core body temperature, which can be derived from in-ear temperature. This makes the in-ear thermometer the most reliable IR thermometer.
Ear thermometers also have a number of disadvantages. Measurements require users to sample specific spots inside the auditory channel, which requires experience and this method is not as convenient as forehead thermometer measurements, and more obtrusive. Furthermore, the sensor needs to be clean to arrive at a correct temperature value.
IR thermometer advantages
IR thermometers provide very easy and fast measurements (1-2 seconds) without insertion into the body, making them more convenient than conventional thermometers. You can obtain all of the information you need – without touching. You don’t need to worry about contamination and transmission of infections. There is no need to ensure your temperature measuring equipment is properly sterilized prior to each use.
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