Automated health kiosk helps businesses open amid COVID-19 pandemic

It’s a sleek machine set up at Cov Wayzata, a popular restaurant on Lake Minnetonka.

The Sentry Health kiosk captures your face in an oval on the screen and takes your temperature. A few questions then pop up on the screen asking if you’ve had contact with a COVID-19 positive person or have symptoms yourself.

Co-founder of the kiosk, Joe Caldwell, said the automated kiosk can prompt you to touch the screen and answer the question, or can read head signals.

"It understands (nodding), that’s a yes, and that’s a no, so it’s pretty intelligent," Caldwell said. Caldwell said it can also detect masks, and will alert you if you’re not wearing it correctly.

After it reveals your temperature, it prompts you to sanitize your hands.

The entire process takes just 3 ½ seconds, and it won’t give you a pass.

"It won’t give you the green light unless you have a good temperature and you sanitize your hands, too," Caldwell said.

If a red box appears, it’s a reminder to sanitize. Too high of a temperature requires a re-check in five minutes.

"If you get a high temperature reading, again, for a second time, then we would ask you to leave," said Cov Wayzata co-owner Steve Anderson.

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Cov employee Lauren Cline is required to use the kiosk at the start and end of her shift.

"A lot of customers aren’t wearing masks so if they’ve had their temperature checked, it makes me feel a lot safer," Cline said.

Anderson said he will soon require it for customers, too.

"There’s no downside to it because it’s not intrusive, and it gives us a nice sense of security in a restaurant that everybody in it has been checked and is okay," Anderson added.

Caldwell said the kiosk idea came from automated parking meters.

"We were going to put thermometers in every one of our parking kiosks," Caldwell explained.

With a little ingenuity, the kiosk evolved instead.

"We took the area where all the quarters used to be, because who needs a quarter, and we ripped that out and we put in a hand sanitizer," he shared.

Caldwell said demand for the kiosks is so high across the country that new locations are needed to build more.

"It just gives the people confidence in that it’s safe to come here," Caldwell said.