The creator of a smart and sleek thermometer has far more on his mind than whether your body temperature is above 98.6 degrees F. He wants to revolutionize the thermometer by enabling it to read the "health weather" of a community.
To accomplish that goal, though, you and everyone you know will have to use the device dubbed the Kinsa Smart Thermometer.
After a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2013, Kinsa last week earned FDA approval for its smart thermometer. It looks much like the thermometers of yore, but because it plugs directly into -- and is powered by -- a smartphone audio jack, it also harnesses the power of its free app to delve deeper into the health of you and your loved ones. This is where you and everyone you know come in.
Kinsa has a grand vision: create a real-time map of your health so that you, your physician, and your community will be better informed. If enough people nearby are using the thermometer -- and at $14.99 it is reasonable to conclude that in some pockets of the world enough people would -- you will be able to not only take your temperature and enter in your symptoms, but also share that data anonymously and get a read on how many people nearby are reporting similar symptoms and illnesses and how contagious those illnesses tend to be, for example.
The thermometer, with its upcoming iOS app, works with the iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, and iPod Touch 5. An Android app is in the works. It's currently available for preorder, with April as the target ship date. The folks at Kinsa say they also plan to seek approval in Europe, Canada, and Australia in the near future.
A lot of inventions rely on a large user base to be successful, but not as many rely on that user base to simply be useful. This built-in catch 22 represents a hurdle, but the user base doesn't have to be gigantic to work in small pockets -- your kid's second-grade class, for instance. And if anyone knows how to take the temperature of a community, it's going to be the folks at Kinsa. The company was founded by Inder Singh, who boasts several degrees from the likes of MIT and Harvard, and who from 2008 to 2011 served as the executive vice president of the Clinton Health Access Initiative's program to fight malaria and HIV in Africa and South Asia.