Necessity is the mother of invention, and for one Wisconsin duo, the pandemic led to a new business idea.

Founded in 2020 by Paul Simons of Green Bay and Bryon Gebhard of Madison, Simplifeye Systems provides smart software solutions that support visitor safety and workforce protection programs. One of its products is a thermal screening camera to monitor visitors’ temperatures. 

“We’re hoping that this could be a disruptive technology that could become part of your day-to-day life,” says Simons, an electrical engineer. “It’s keeping a pulse on everyone’s health. We really wanted to focus on how we could put people back to work, put kids back to school, and not in a political way. We can’t just push forward with the status quo.”

Simplifeye Systems uses a sensor camera made by ICI, a Texas company. “When we were searching for partners, they stood out as being the top end. They are implementing it in a lot of Fortune 500 companies,” says Simons, noting that the ICI technology was certified by the FDA prior to the pandemic. 

“Before the pandemic, all these kinds of devices for thermal screening needed to be certified by the FDA, as would any medical device,” Simons says.

The thermal screening device can check 25 people simultaneously, taking only one-third of a second to scan. “If someone has a fever, an alarm can go off, it can send a message, lock a door, record it,” Gebhard says. “There are so many things it can do; you can also tie it into your video surveillance equipment. How it’s implemented is a huge range of situations.” 

While the company offers other security and risk management software, it’s hoping to expand its reach with the thermal screening devices. “We hope to expand more with biotech companies,” says Gebhard, adding that they are hoping to gain buy-in with manufacturing companies as well. 

Simons says the technology applies to more than the pandemic and can help slow the spread of other prevalent communicable diseases, such as influenza, and change how companies safeguard against bio risks.

“We need to look at this like the way metal detectors were implemented after 9/11. Signs don’t seem to work,” he says. “We need to protect ourselves. It just makes a lot of sense because people are not going to police themselves.” 

Simons says the product demonstrates what can be done during pandemics going forward. “Let’s face it, this is not the last one.”