How is a Pit Viper Like an iPhone?

Inventors of the infrared in-ear thermometer design a point-and-shoot temperature-taker for your phone

1 min read
How is a Pit Viper Like an iPhone?
Faden Corp.

As collectors of natural-history trivia know, the pit viper’s pit is not the one it lives in, but the directional infrared-sensing dimple between its eye and nostril. If snakes can do it, why shouldn’t my smartphone?

Jacob Fraden and David Pintsov have patented (and are looking for licensees for) their new scanning IR device. This 2.5-mm IR sensor is built into the phone next to the digital camera and can measure temperatures from -30 C to about 200 C—and measure them accurately enough for clinical use.

The prolific Fraden, founder of Fraden Corporation, invented the ThermoScan Ear Thermometer. From a kid's perspective, that innovation was bad enough, when it came to faking a fever to stay home from school by rubbing the thermometer between the sheets, or, if closely watched, rubbing it against your teeth (no, mom, I'm a journalist, of course I never did this myself). Now it looks as though the new device finishes the job, with a point-and-shoot thermometer that takes less than a second to tell your mother that you’re malingering.

The device’s quick response, “minimal incremental cost,” digital-image targeting, and wide range make it useful for also gauging the temperatures of engine parts, of roasting turkeys, and of the babies’ bathwater. (So that’s one more component of the Star Trek Tricorder ticked off the checklist. Maybe someone really will claim the Tricorder X Prize  by producing a working prototype of the all-purpose medicomagical gadget by the end of 2015.)

Images: Fraden Corp.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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