Many are the household items that have been rendered dubiously "smart" in recent years. You have your smart cups, your smart pants, your smart pet food bowls. While often cool and interesting, the ultimate utility of these devices is ... debatable is probably the polite term.
With flu season bearing down, the idea of a smart thermometer kinda makes sense, though. That's what the startup company Kinsa has been banking on for a couple of years now. Its Kinsa Smart Stick is an oral thermometer that leverages the processing power of your smart phone to monitor fevers and track illnesses.
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The Kinsa Smart Stick plugs into your phone's headphone jack. You can click it in directly, or use the short included extension cord. By way of the companion app, you can get temperature readouts within 10 seconds, and the app also has options for tracking medications, symptoms and the exact time you registered a particular fever.
Nothing earth-shattering, really, but the Kinsa is also kid-friendly - it comes with a little bubble-popping game - and as parents know, that can be useful this time of year. When I showed the Kinsa to my grade school kids, they were much more amenable to the idea of getting their temperature taken by an iPhone. (Several "Nurse Siri" jokes were made.)
Kinsa is expanding its line this month with the new Smart Ear thermometer, aimed specifically at the squirmy infant market. The ear thermometer takes temperature reading instantly and also works with the Kinsa app for recording the exact whens and wheres of symptoms and medications.
New features recommend a course of action depending on your child's age, fever and symptoms. The app can also alert parents to any illnesses trending in their geographical area.
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Kinsa was founded by Inder Singh, who has worked with the Clinton Foundation to monitor diseases and reduce drug costs in Third World countries. His friendly thermometers are part of a larger initiative to use phone-connected medical devices to track illnesses in specific communities.
In fact, Kinsa is currently planning to work with 100 schools across the U.S. as part of its FLUency program. Each family in the selected schools will be provided with a free Kinsa thermometer with the idea that, down the line, aggregate data from networked thermometers could be used to track flu outbreaks in a designated region.