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Three technologies aimed at helping businesses get back to a new normal

11th Aug 2020

With lockdown continuing in various forms and the government shifting the guidelines on a weekly basis, it can be hard for businesses to know where to start when it comes to protecting staff and customers and responsibly facilitating the return to a new normal way of operating.

With a scalable vaccine solution still some way off, the threat of COVID 19 isn’t going away anytime soon. And with huge emphasis on minimising a second wave whilst trying to get back to generating revenue, measures must be put in place to instil trust and encourage the return of employees and customers to businesses.

But how? And where do you start?

Norbain has a range of technology solutions as part of our ‘Solutions for the New Normal’ initiative that can, and already are, being used to help employees return to work, and customers back through the doors.

And to help simplify where and how these technologies can be employed, we’ve also created schematics showing the range of solutions in different environments, and exactly what products are used to create a given solution.

In the words of our MD, Jeremy Hockham,: “As a leading distributor in the industry, we’re in the ideal position to assemble a full picture of the issues being faced, and the solutions that our suppliers can provide. I strongly believe that it is our duty to use this knowledge to advise and support the market, ensuring that our customers, and their customers, find ways to help us all get back to a normal, albeit new normal, way of life.”

Here’s a look at the technologies involved as well as some pointers on suitability for different applications.

1. Thermal Imaging Solutions

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Thermal imaging allows the user to determine whether someone could be running a temperature and may need to be referred for further checks. All the solutions are contactless and measure an increase in skin temperature.

The main benefits of thermal imaging solutions are that they can be carried out at a safe distance. Results are instantaneous, with some of the solutions processing multiple subjects per minute. And they are very simple to set up and operate.

NOTE: It’s important to clarify that measuring skin temperature is not the same as measuring someone’s actual body temperature but, in the current uneasy climate, they allow you to provide rapid preliminary screening in a public place. There are several options depending on your application.

Fixed Thermal Cameras

Thermal cameras are ideal where a permanent surveillance solution is required, such as in heavily used entrances with high footfall. For example, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, airports, shopping centres, hospitals and schools.

However, they do need to be connected to a network and the cameras themselves must be fixed and mounted somehow, so aren’t ideal for any application that doesn’t require a permanent, static solution.

Handheld Units

Handheld thermal imaging is a great option if you require a transportable solution – event organisers and the hospitality industry for example, or venue management. It’s important to note with this option that you can’t record the video footage. They work over WIFI with free PC software or through an android/apple app and so are perfect for use on an ad-hoc basis ‘on the door’. This also makes them ideal to hire out to customers on a temporary basis if the need exists.

 2. Contactless Access Control

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Contactless access control solutions can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses as there is no physical interaction required. These are preferable solutions over any that need contact made, as, although they can be wiped down after each use, they do present a far greater risk to all using them.

Solutions can differ enormously in terms of technology, ranging from simple entry/exit solutions to highly sophisticated facial recognition terminals.

Advances in technology have also allowed the combination of complementary functions, such as access control, mask detection and thermal screening in a single unit.

No-touch readers, door releases and exit buttons

These provide a simple solution to access control both internally and externally and require an authorised fob or mobile device to be presented to allow contactless access.

Touch-free audio or video access control kits

Ideal for residential applications, they include proximity access control for authorised users, whilst visitors can be authorised without the need to press a button.

Facial recognition solutions

A facial recognition system allows for a very high level of accuracy in determining access rights and provides a completely touch-free and highly secure solution. They’re ideal for a wide range of applications where authorised access in restricted areas is required – be that the whole, or part of a building.

In sectors such as care homes, combining thermal screening with building access can help to consistently ensure only authorised visitors are admitted and are not running a temperature, cutting down any risk of mistakes across times of day and shift patterns.

However, in a time where facemasks are being enforced in indoor spaces, this does interfere with the effectiveness of this type of technology and would need to be taken into consideration.

3. Social Distancing

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Not a week goes by without being reminded of the need to keep the ‘r’ number (the rate of infection) at less than 1 – which we are told can be maintained if adequate measures are taken to minimise contact between people. So, the challenge here is to ensure that everyone is doing their part in keeping their distance from others and wearing a face mask in designated areas.

Health and Safety Solutions

Speech Transfer Systems

Speech transfer systems help by supporting interactions through security glass or plastic screens by optimising clear voice communication at the same time as minimising background noise. With screens now common place in our high street, at petrol stations, across hospitality and other sectors, speech transfer systems are a great way to ensure conversations can still be conducted effectively.


Ideal for social distancing announcements, speakers are an effective and cost-effective method of reminding people of important safety requirements. They connect to a standard network and can be programmed to activate via a PIR sensor.

Digital Signage Monitors

Monitors offer the opportunity to display occupancy control information and images from thermal cameras, along with reminders to ‘wash your hands’ or ‘observe the 2m distance rule’, for example. These can be combined with adverts and promotional or health and safety videos if required.

Face Mask Detection

We discussed the combination of facial recognition and face mask detection earlier in the article, but cameras can also be programmed to provide this function. Some models have this capability built-in, whilst others require a suitable NVR to be installed as part of the system.

This type of solution is perfect in a retail or transport environment – or anywhere there is a requirement to combine surveillance with mask detection

People Counting & Occupancy Control

Social distancing can only be effective if there’s enough available space to cater for it. Many facilities are limiting the number of people allowed in. This can be automatically monitored and controlled through occupancy control solutions, thus freeing up your staff for other duties. These solutions use digital signage monitors to clearly indicate how many people are in an area, and if it’s permitted to enter.

Next steps

So, you’ve taken some time to assess a few of the different options and their applications – what’s the next step? Well, you can find out more by following the links below, or you can speak with our teams to discuss how we can help you. As well as our experienced sales teams, we also have a Solutions Specialist on hand, dedicated to ensuring we find the best solution for you and your customers.


Find out more about any of the above-mentioned solutions: