We have real-time data to tell us how bad traffic is, or what the weather is like in Tokyo, or when the next train is going to come. But when it comes to the flu, strep throat, or even the common cold, we tend to only find out after the fact. In the age of smartphones and smart devices, that's no longer acceptable.
Enter Kinsa Health, a New York-based startup and DEMO Conference 2013 winner that's given itself the mission of shepherding into existence a real-time map of human health, based on data gathered by its line of smarter medical devices. Its first device: A $20 "smart" thermometer that integrates with your smartphone and helps track yours and your family's health.
"We've reimagined the world's most common medical device," says Kinsa Health CEO and Co-Founder Inder Singh.
Singh himself has an educational background in the health sciences, as well as a family with a long history in the medical profession. The "mantra" of the health world, he says, is "early detection, early response." That's why a smarter thermometer that can actually help people track their symptoms over time is so crucial.
The Kinsa thermometer, which just cleared FDA approval last December, syncs up to an Apple iOS or Android smartphone for the heavy computational lifting. This keeps the cost of the device itself low, Singh says, while also enabling all kinds of neat features by taking advantage of the smartphone's screen. When a temperature is taken, the user can also flag symptoms that are presenting themselves at the time
To encourage kids to sit still for the process, the app provides awards for sitting still and regularly taking their temperature. It also alerts parents with a frowny face and a sound alert if the thermometer becomes unseated. And because it doesn't need any hard design elements like a screen to display a temperature, the device itself is thin, flexible, and light.
And as a first step towards that mesh of real-time data, Kinsa enables users to join Fitbit-like groups that show the overall health trends -- potentially a huge selling point for, say, parents of school-age children who want to know how that flu outbreak is settling out.
"You can extend the meaning of what a thermometer is," Singh says.
Right now, Kinsa Health is in private beta, which Singh says has yielded an unexpected result: The parents currently testing the thermometer say that the value of the device is in excess of the $19.99 MSRP, to the point where Singh's team is pondering raising the price when the device hits mass market retailers later this year -- it wouldn't want to get pigeonholed in a "value" category that it doesn't fit in.
Following the public launch of the thermometer in early April, Kinsa is looking to raise a Series A round of funding as it continues to develop a more advanced line of thermometers and medical devices.