The smart temperature patch invented by Californian startup Stemp works for 30 days without recharging and can measure your temperature systematically on an ongoing basis. The sensor-plus-app approach is very practical for children, pregnant women, people who have just undergone surgery and also sportsmen and women who wish to monitor their performance.

[SXSW] A smart thermometer that takes your temperature in real time

The humble thermometer has evidently not escaped the incursions of the connected objects movement. The product developed by Los Angeles startup Stemp, which was showcased recently at South by Southwest (SXSW ) – the major interactive technologies event that takes place every year in Austin, Texas – provides a way of taking and recording your temperature in real time. It comes in the form of a sensor-embedded patch which the patient sticks to his/her body just below the armpit, using a specially designed plaster. The sensor links up to your smartphone and provides real-time information on body temperature, updated on an ongoing basis. The hardware – comprising battery, Bluetooth connectivity and a temperature sensor – was designed in tandem with French company Insight-SiP

It was a common shared experience that led the three Stemp co-founders to create their smart patch. "All three of us are parents and when our children are ill we all have to go through the same annoying experience of having to wake them up in the middle of the night to take their temperature. A high temperature is a sign that the body is recovering, and is not necessarily a bad thing, but children need their sleep if they’re going to get better,” co-founder David Whelan explained to L’Atelier. This was the starting point for eighteen months’ work to develop an easy-to-use digital device to replace our time-honoured mercury thermometers. Tracking a sick child’s temperature is not the only use you might make of this smart thermometer. Adults, older people, and pregnant women could also find it very practical. "Women who wish to become pregnant have to take their temperature every morning to track their ovulation. Doing so can be a nuisance and it’s very easy to forget,” Whelan pointed out.

Official approval pending

This is exactly the type of situation that the Stemp solution is intended to ease. The patch keeps working for 30 days without having to be recharged and it will transmit your temperature in real time to the mobile app via Bluetooth. You can also programme the app to send you alerts. Whelan revealed that he and his colleagues are looking at ‟other uses in the medical field, for instance using the patch after an operation when a patient’s temperature needs to be monitored very frequently”. The startup is now going through the process of obtaining approval from the relevant United States authority, the Food and Drug Administration. On March 11, while still waiting for their green light, the co-founders launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which is due to run until the end of April. The launch of the smart temperature patch and the special sticking plasters that go with them is scheduled for the summer, but the app developed for iOS is already available for download. The app collects data from the patch on an ongoing basis and outlines trends so that the patient’s temperature patterns can be tracked over time. The app will also be available on the connected Apple Watch, which boasts a number of health-related features.

Stemp is not however relying on crowdfunding as its only route to funding. ‟We’re looking to raise finance from venture capital funds, and we aim to close a round this summer. The funding will help us expand our production capacity,” explained David Whelan. Discussions are also underway with a number of European investors.

Potentiel applictions in the world of sport ?

There are a number of similar connected thermometer initiatives around, with the stated aim of helping to prevent the spread of contagious diseases or to detect high temperature in children and elderly people. Other startups such as fellow-Californian company VivaLnk and Ohio-based TempTraq have developed thermometer solutions similar to Stemp’s. "Where we’re different,” claims David Whelan, “is in offering an extremely small device that is easy to use and provides a high degree of power autonomy.”

Stemp is planning to use a number of different distribution channels to sell its product. "We’re gearing up to sell the product online via our own website and also on Amazon,” reveals Whelan. In reinventing this everyday instrument, Stemp can claim to be making life easier for the sick. However, this 21st-century thermometer may also serve as a predictive device that enables consumers to monitor their temperature when they feel unwell and fear they may be coming down with an illness. The Stemp co-founder denies any ambitions to become a sort of ‘health Fitbit’ but it is not hard to imagine applications in the field of sport. The German footballers who recently won the World Cup each had a similar sort of tracker to take their temperature as a means of monitoring their physical condition and assessing its likely impact on their match performance.

By Romain Chapron