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Point-and-shoot thermometer for your smartphone

Posting in Design

Smartphones might soon come equipped with infrared sensors for detecting temperature.

The 2.5-mm IR sensor can be built into a phone or tablet next to the digital camera where it can measure a wide range of temperatures accurately enough for clinical use.

One of the designers, Jacob Fraden of Fraden Corporation, invented the ThermoScan Ear Thermometer. Among other things, it made it difficult for kids to fake a fever.

This new point-and-shoot thermometer takes less than a second to take a temperature – and without having to come into contact with the patient.

The device’s wide range -- from -22 to +400 degrees Fahrenheit -- also makes it broadly applicable, such as gauging the temperatures of engine parts, a roasting turkey, and the baby's bathwater.

The IR camera should be positioned near the built-in digital photo/video camera, which locates the part of the object emanating the infrared signal.

Temperature is computed by the main microprocessor from a digital signal received from the IR camera. The two operating modes -- medical temperature and inanimate temperature -- allow it to make a single snapshot measurement (IR photo mode) or measure and display temperature continuously (IR video mode).

The smartphone sensing device has been patented, and its makers are looking for licensees.

[Via IEEE Spectrum, Fraden Corp. brocher, press release]

Images: Fraden Corp.

— By on November 29, 2012, 10:13 AM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure