Smart thermometers earn U.S. patent, FDA clearance

A U.S. patent has been granted to new infrared thermometer technology with a built-in module for smartphones to remotely take body temperatures without any physical contact with a person. The technology, from San Diego-based Fraden Corporation, is now available for licensing to "qualified companies with a significant presence in the mobile phone market," according to the announcement.

The patented technology works with a phone's digital camera, in which a small infrared lens is positioned near the camera lens without any protrusions, providing a thermal sensor built into a smartphone that in less than a second can accurately measure patient temperature with no bodily contact whatsoever. To take a person's temperature, all that is required is to aim the smartphone at their face and it automatically takes the internal body temperature.

However, one observer doesn't believe smartphone manufacturers will necessarily be sold on the technology.

"[CEO Jacob] Fraden is pitching his innovation to smartphone manufacturers, but that's far from a guarantee that we'll see this. How many patents are granted for technology that never sees the light of day?" Gizmag's Will Shanklin asked. "It's also possible that we will have infrared smartphones, but Fraden's thermometer patents won't be necessary. Apple already has an infrared smartphone patent, and you can buy third-party IR add-ons."

In similar news, a smart wireless thermometer created by Beijing-based Raiing recently received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the 510(k) filing, the device is intended to "measure and monitor human armpit temperature continuously via wireless signal transmission of the measuring result." It is safe for use on children ages 2 and older.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out the Gizmag post
- here's the FDA 510(k) clearance filing for Raiing's thermometer (.pdf)