For us average folks, smartphones have already merged several gadgets into one: our phones, our media players, even our computers. Now they may be taking over a more specialized field: the doctor’s bag. We’ve already seen smartphone accessories that work as ophthalmoscopes and otoscopes; now a Kickstarter campaign wants to add a personal thermometer to the mix.
The Wishbone is an infrared thermometer, which means that you don’t have to stick it under your tongue or anyplace else unpleasant. In fact, it requires no physical contact at all; just hold it a few centimeters from someone’s forehead to get a reading. While IR thermometers are nothing new–and studies consider them about as accurate as traditional thermometers–the Wishbone’s integration with a smartphone app, which lets you log temperature records over time, could prove helpful for those who want to track health data as well as easily share it with health providers.
All of these gadgets together mean that medical equipment is more compact than ever before. That’s not only great for doctors making house calls, but also for those looking to provide medical care to far-flung regions where lugging around a lot of equipment can be difficult or unwieldy. Compared to the infrared thermometers used in hospitals and even the digital thermometers you can buy at the drugstore, the Wishbone is small enough to fit in a pocket.
In addition to its compact size, the Wishbone is pretty efficient: a standard, low-cost button-cell battery can power it for about a year. (To be fair, traditional glass thermometers don’t require batteries at all.) It plugs into a standard headphone jack, so you can use it with whatever iOS or Android devices you have on hand.
It seems unlikely that we’ll soon get to the point where an X-ray or MRI machine can be shrunk down to a smartphone accessory, but medicine has still never been quite so smart or quite so portable as it is now.