A Smartphone App That Takes Your Temperature

When my kids were younger, whenever one seemed to be coming down with an illness, I did two things right away: I took the child’s temperature, and I called the teacher to ask what was going around the classroom—because the odds were, my kid was getting whatever his classmates already had. (Later, when we were living in a more networked world, I would send a quick e-mail to the class parent list to get that information.) Invariably, the teacher or parents could tell me a lot about the illness of the month—what and how serious it was, and how long it would last.

I always knew I wasn't the only parent relying on these kinds of quantative and qualitative data when my kid gets sick. And sure enough, Kinsa, a New York City startup, has wrapped both of these approaches together in a single app, the Kinsa Smart Thermometer, which it launched at Demo Mobile this week. The app's thermometer connects to smart phones through the audio port (a cheaper way to go than Bluetooth). Your temperature appears on the phone display, and the app saves the temperature and any symptom information you enter. It also lets users create private communities, like parents of children in the same classroom, to track illnesses going through the community, and offers even more general “what’s going around” tracking for broader geographic areas—similar it seemed, to the pollen count data provided by local weather sites. The gizmo will initially sell for $25, about the cost of an old-fashioned, non-networked electronic thermometer.

Follow me on Twitter @TeklaPerry.


Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.