After the longest season in history, a mercifully short reprieve for players to catch their breath has led to a return of flurry of footy. Of course, unfortunately, the hardened season-ticket owner has to resort to sitting in front of the telly box in order to enjoy the sizzling soccer scenes. But for how long?
Empty stadiums and (optional) artificial crowd noise have been the canvas in this coronavirus compromise, with the ongoing pandemic preventing crowds from attending matches. Fortunately, there may be light at the end of the tunnel to escape the sterility of this bio-secure version of the beautiful game. We keep hearing that fans make football, and thanks to a revolutionary new technology, this could be soon be proven once again.
The KC N901 Smart Helmet, a wearable headset with a built-in infrared camera that provides real-time thermal readings through an AR display, is a quick and efficient way of screening individuals for high fevers – one of the key symptoms of COVID-19. Devices have already been deployed at airports and are in use by officials in over 35 countries. The helmet offers readings that are 96% accurate and can scan up to 200 people per minute, making them perfect for busy turnstiles thronged with eager fans. The smart helmet was initially designed for general security purposes, made up of advanced stab-proof materials with an energy-absorbing and possessing an ultra-light weight design. But the company has stepped up to the plate in the fight against Covid-19.
“We have been working on the KC N901 Smart Helmet for some time,” the developer of the project, Dr Jie Guo, Global Head of KC Wearable, tells The Sportsman. “When COVID-19 struck, we identified it as an opportunity for us to make a difference to the pandemic effort and support people as they try to adjust to this new version of normality.”
This is next-gen tech that tantalises the return to a new normal. “In short, the helmet uses sophisticated infrared camera technology,” says Dr Guo, “The smart helmet visor’s thermo-scan sensors show the temperature of people within a five-metre radius, as we know that a high temperature can be a symptom of someone who is COVID-positive. It also has the potential to connect with other data on COVID-19 track and tracing apps.”
Furthermore, in order for the utmost efficiency in sealing supporters’ safety, the device stores all data itself with a 64GB internal memory. 13 people can be scanned at once, 200 people in a minute. These are huge numbers. Ideal for use in a stadium filled with fans. It can even be envisioned as a long-term method, beyond COVID-19.
“The KC N901 Smart Helmet certainly has long-term use,” says Dr Guo, “Society as we know it has completely changed; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has radically impacted the way in which we live – all around the world. Unfortunately, the virus is likely to be with us for a while longer, so we are regularly looking to build on existing features to maximise potential and ensure the safety of people across many different scenarios. Along with thermal scanning, there is an opportunity for local authorities to incorporate our technology into their respective test and trace programmes, for instance.”
With the Smart Helmet taking off, but COVID-19 unrelenting, KC Wearable hasn't stopped just there. Alongside the KC N901 Smart Helmet, they are also in the process of developing the next generation of wearable technology, including a smart watch that links to the helmet that has already been developed and a smart jacket.
So, dear football fan, put down the remote, pick up your scarf (and your facemask, of course), and prepare to get back to the arena of your choice. Thanks to Dr Jie Guo and KC Wearable, those floodgates could be reopened sooner than we all think. Here’s hoping.