Military radar systems designed to defend Israel against terrorist attacks are being modified to detect coronavirus in human bodies.
Two major defence contractors – Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems – are working with the defence department to refit sensitive sensors to screen patients for COVID 19, Jewish News Syndicate reports.
Israeli defence ministry officials announced the prototype technology can measure vital signs of patients, including pulse, respiratory rate and temperature, and detect patterns that indicate a likely COVID-19 infection.
The equipment could be deployed to public spaces such as the entrances to shopping malls to give medics an indication of people who may be exhibiting signs of the virus.
The technology when fully developed would enable doctors and nurses to carry out the screening from two metres away – or even from another room by tracking it on a screen.
Currently, medical teams have to examine patients directly through close contact and at longer intervals, putting them at risk of infection.
Yossi Cohen, vice-president at Elbit Systems’ C4i and Cyber Division, says until the coronavirus pandemic the advanced radar was purely for military use.
“Until now, the civilian world didn’t have this need,” he said.
“This development came as a result of a capability that we want to give doctors at the entrance to emergency rooms to distinguish [between] patients that have a respiratory and have a chance of [contracting] coronavirus from patients suffering from other patients.”
© Supplied Israeli defence companies are converting military radar to detect signs of COVID 10. (Elbit Systems). The virus-detecting technology from IAI is also based on the radar – originally designed to protect perimeters and detect people walking or crawling, or vehicles moving.
Israel Lupa, executive vice president at IAI, said the radar emits a low frequency, making it safe to use around people.
“The system can already detect minor movements. We adapted this to tracking body movements caused by the breath and pulse.
The technology includes a thermal camera for detecting fever and can alert doctors of possible COVID-19 infection in a patient.