B.C. startup aims to stop potential COVID spreaders in their tracks

Deployed in care homes and other local businesses, Vancouver startup Tevano's temperature screening device could also have post-pandemic applications.

Credit: Courtesy of Tevano Systems

Deployed in care homes and other local businesses, Tevano’s temperature screening device could also have post-pandemic applications

Like many other B.C. companies, Tevano Systems found a way to pivot during the pandemic.

The Vancouver startup, launched in 2018, began by developing kiosk-based payment systems. When COVID-19 hit last spring, its tech team spied an opportunity, CEO David Bajwa recalls: “If we could parlay this into a monitoring system, it’s going to help any organization of any size.”

The result was Health Shield, which debuted commercially in December. The tablet-like device, mounted on a stand, can take someone’s temperature in less than a second and determine if they’re wearing a face covering.

The first market that Tevano pursued was assisted-living facilities, which see a large number of people go in and out their doors, from guests and staff to drivers delivering food. “Our first installation, we started off with a unit in the front entrance, and then pretty soon we were installing around the facility more, including the kitchen area,” Bajwa explains.

Because Health Shield’s software is cloud-based, a user can monitor many devices from one place, Bajwa explains. They can also set its alarm as an email or a text message, he adds. “Then that person can actually see, OK, we’ve got somebody with an elevated temperature, they’re not wearing a mask, and they’ve got an opportunity to stop them in their tracks.”

Besides care homes, Tevano has been working with one of Western Canada’s biggest transportation companies, Bajwa says. As he points out, a truck delivering to grocery stores at night has the potential to create “a perfect viral network.” Tevano deployed Health Shield across the company’s distribution and logistics network, as well as at its offices, where a few people a day typically enter without a mask, Bajwa notes. “They get the alarm, but then they’ll see 15 seconds later, the person will put their mask on.”

Tevano is also finding clients in light industry—for example, a pulp-and-paper outfit with plants along the coast. “We’re tweaking it so not only does it capture the temperature and the mask side,” Bajwa says of Health Shield, “but we can program the device so that as long it does facial recognition for that person and as long as they’re in the database, it’ll unlock a turnstile to let them on the premises.”

Tevano’s screening system, which doesn’t have Health Canada approval, is meant to be a first line of defence, Bajwa stresses. The company sells its devices to clients, who also purchase a monthly subscription.

As COVID vaccines roll out across Canada, Bajwa thinks Health Shield could find another use, as part of a government passport system to verify inoculation. “I don’t know the logistics on how it will be done, because it’s too early,” he says. “But we certainly have the ability and are looking to position ourselves as a partner in that equation.” To that end, Tevano has brought on former New Brunswick premier Shawn Graham as an adviser.

Bajwa also sees two post-pandemic applications for the device. The first is workplace screening for high temperature from a disease like the flu, to avoid sickening other staff. The second: unlocking doors. “This could be used as an employee management system to allow certain employees access to certain areas, based on facial recognition,” Bajwa says.