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Review: Space-age thermometer makes you want to take your temperature too much

For such a basic indicator of your health, it’s never really been very fun to get your temperature taken. It typically involves needing to keep your mouth shut for long boring seconds, or to have a probe stuck in a orifice (we’re talking about your ear here – your ear!). But the new smart temporal thermometer from Withings changes that and lets you know your core temp in just a few seconds with a simple wave above your forehead.

Withings is no stranger to consumer tech, having put out a few smart scales, activity trackers and a home monitoring camera, among other gear. In January of this year, it announced a new thermometer called the Thermo, that is meant to read your core temperature by monitoring your temporal artery with a simple wave across your forehead. The device cleared FDA approval in the US and went on sale there today.

Apparently, the devices uses 16 different infrared sensors to take 4,000 measurements in two seconds. “A specially-designed algorithm then automatically corrects for biases, such as skin heat loss and the ambient temperature, allowing Thermo to deliver a single, highly-accurate temperature reading,” says the company.

When I first got the Thermo to review I had to admit to thinking, “Do we really need even thermometers to connect to an app on our phone?” That was especially true through the somewhat lengthy set-up process that requires you to log in to (or create) a Withings account, connect the thermometer to your phone via Bluetooth and then to connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi network so it can communicate results to the cloud.

The Thermo measures about 5 in (13 cm) long and 1.25 in (3 cm) wide and runs on two AA batteries

Once that was done though, using the Thermo was a breeze. You simply hit a button to turn it on, then slide it across (or above) your forehead until you feel it emit two short buzzes. It worked within seconds and returned what I assume was an accurate reading of my temperature – 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit. (You can adjust the Thermo to provide readouts in Celsius too.)

The temperature displays on the body of the thermometer itself rather than on a dedicated screen, which adds to the futuristic feel of the device. After the reading appears, you can also swipe up or down on the end of the thermometer to scroll through the people you have stored in your Withings account to link that temperature reading to their profile.

After doing so, within about a minute, the data was transferred to the app on my phone.

While most people aren’t going to feel the need to capture temperature readings in the app, it could come in handy for people with chronic illnesses.

That being said, the Thermo was kind of a blast to use. It definitely had a bit of that Star Trek tricorder thing going on – especially because you don’t actually have to even touch your forehead with the device. It delivered exactly the same readings even when held about 1 cm (about .4 in) away from my forehead. And when used without worrying about the app, it’s a fast, efficient and – yes – fun way to take your temperature. (Which I’ve done about 15 times today, and not just because I’m reviewing the thing.)

The Thermo is retailing for the fairly steep price tag of US$99.95. It’s available at all Apple stores, Apple online and through Withings. It will be available in other countries shortly.

The following video shows the Thermo in action. But be careful, you just might get hooked.

Product page: Withings

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