Kinsa Health Launches Smart Thermometer

4-21-2013 5-46-04 PM

NYC-based startup Kinsa Health launches a smart thermometer that plugs into a smartphone and integrates with an iOS app. The device, which is admittedly less convenient than a traditional thermometer, allow users to share location-specific health information with the community to monitor the spread of illnesses such as the flu and strep throat. The concept is similar to other work being done with algorithms poring through Google searches or Twitter posts.

To draw users in, the thermometer’s app comes with a “health weather” display that shows users what is happening in their neighborhoods and local schools, from influenza to strep outbreaks.

"If influenza is starting in your area, we can push notification to get your shot. Your health is linked to those around you," Singh said. "We can be healthier together if we just participate in this kind of system." – Inder Singh, Kinsa’s founder and CEO.

Differentiating Kinsa is that the information it collects and plots on an outbreak map is based on an actual health metric: temperature and patient-reported symptoms. The Achilles heel of algorithm-based outbreak tracking, such as that done with Google Flu Tracking, has always been reconciling the fact that not every person who searches for keywords like "flu" is actually sick. When local news coverage of flu increases, instances of users Googling “flu” increase in that area, and thus Google Flu Trends shows an erroneous spike in flu at that location. Kinsa is attempting to build a platform of outbreak surveillance based on reliable, irrefutable data.

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