One of the big advantages of technology is that it can make everyday devices “smarter.” In general, this means that the devices can generate information that is more useful than the traditional unconnected designs. A good example of this is the Kinsa Smart Thermometer. It’s not a very complicated item; it’s simply a digital thermometer that plugs into the headset jack of your smartphone — Apple or Android — and takes your temperature in 10 seconds.
Because it relies on the smartphone for power and the bulk of the tasks such as storing and displaying the results, the device lists for just under $30. It doesn’t even have batteries so you don’t have to worry about recharging it. You can order directly from the company website or from Amazon, and it’s also available from brick-and-mortar retailers including the CVS pharmacy chain. In addition to taking a person’s temperature, the app also lets you log other relevant information, such as the times that medications were taken. This provides a full record that can be shared with a physician or other healthcare professional. You can even take pictures with the smartphone’s camera to include in the log.
The Kinsa is the first FDA-cleared thermometer for smartphones. The company recently released a new “Groups” feature that can be used by public schools. Parents can join the group for their school, and the health information for their children will be shared anonymously with the group. This can provide an aggregate view of the health of the student population for the school, and help parents be aware of “what’s going around” in terms of how many children are sick and the major symptoms that they have. This could lead to better prevention, faster diagnosis, and quicker treatment.
Not all devices get “smarter” just because they are connected, but this is an example of a device that can help both the individual and the community be better informed.