There is nothing conceptually new in a digital thermometer — and definitely not in putting a Bluetooth chip in a traditional device and tracking the data it collects with an app. (In fact, judging by the early previews at CES 2016, that’s more or less the idea behind virtually every new piece of consumer tech on the market.)
But the Withings Thermo, a ‘smart temporal thermometer’ unveiled at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, is a little different.
Powered by a matrix of 16 independent infrared sensors, the $100 Thermo is among the most complex devices of its type ever made available to a consumer. It takes about 4,000 measurements in seconds, and is able to find the hottest point on your forehead and deliver a very accurate reading.
Most importantly for a consumer, the Thermo is about as simple as it gets to use. You simply press the green tip of a small, squashed-tube device against the temporal artery in your forehead, press a button, wait two seconds, and that’s it: your temperature, or that of your child, flashes up on the LED display and its automatically synced to an app.
The result is an ongoing dataset of temperature readings, which can provide important information in the event of an illness.
Withings, which makes a range of connected healthcare products including the Activite line of smart-analog hybrid watches, a blood pressure monitor and a smart scale, will also collect data about health symptoms — though it will not currently offer diagnoses, product manager Capucine Bodin tells WIRED.
“We are only providing advice on temperature level, not offering diagnostics on illnesses,” she said.
“We are taking the best of all the thermometers that exist,” she said, pointing out that no other thermometer on the consumer market has as many sensors, and that most ‘smart’ thermometers use outdated temperature-reading tech.
Key to the Thermo is its design, Bodin says — which was made as friendly as possible to ensure it was not off-putting for children. “There are lots of digital thermometers on the market,” she said. “But they look like a gun. The Thermo is reassuring, made in playful colours and designed with smooth curves and a non-invasive look.”
Sadly the Thermo does not currently combine data from Withings’ other products to provide a full picture of your health. But the device and app do want to make it easy for adults to turn their collected data into insights, on which they can take informed actions on their health. The same principle could also make it possible for insight on a larger scale too.
“In the future we want to make a cartographic map of all temperature readings, for instance in a place if there is an epidemic… that is in the far future, but it is something we are aiming at,” she told WIRED.
The Withings Thermo will be available in the UK in the first quarter of 2016, for £79.95.