With schools and other institutions beginning to open, maintaining safety is of the highest concerns. One of the most effective ways to maintain this safety is by screening those who enter and making sure that they have no symptoms of COVID-19 and have not come into contact with anyone who has had symptoms of COVID-19. However there is an issue with COVID-19 screeners, while they are indeed extremely effective they are also extremely time consuming, in a school environment administrating a screener to each student in a class of 30 can up to 15 minutes which is far too time consuming.
What it does
SwiftScreener automates the process of administering COVID-19 screeners reducing the time it takes to take one from 30 to just 3 seconds. SwiftScreener is powered by the Arduino Mega, in order to be screened for COVID a student simply needs to approach the infrared thermometer which reads the students temperature and then scan their student id card with a barcode scanner. Once the students information is processed it is sent to Google Cloud's Firebase Realtime Database. In the event that a student tests positive this can greatly help the school with contact tracing. Once the students information is retrieved the screener either admits or rejects the student. All of this takes about 3 seconds to complete.
Challenges I ran into
Along the way there were several challenges that I ran into, the first being getting the barcode scanner working which was no easy feat. My Arduino Mega had a built in USB port which made the process a bit easier. Once I connected the barcode scanner and installed the complementary library I discovered that certain digits were getting cut off. Troubleshooting was extremely difficult but after lots of searching I discovered that certain digits were getting cut off because I was using the serial port to print the infrared thermometer's values. The Barcode Scanner communicated with the Arduino through the serial port and in order to reduce errors with the barcode scanner I needed to limit the amount of messages sent on the serial port.
Another challenge I ran into was connecting the Arduino to Wifi with the ESP8266 while I did not really hit any roadblocks the whole process of connecting to Wifi and then interfacing with Firebase was extremely tedious and difficult. The ESP8266 is not a Wifi module instead it is a separate microcontroller with Wifi capabilities and like the Barcode Scanner it communicated with the Arduino through it's serial port. The excess traffic on the Arduino Serial Port made the device extremely slow and so I minimize communications.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am most proud of the fact that I was able to build a fully functional prototype complete with Wifi capabilities in a matter of days.
What I learned
This project taught me a lot about Serial communication.