Fast Company has a curious story about an external 'thermometer' for the iphone. The thermometer's developers had originally written a weather app and then added an external button which plugged into the head-phone jack - serving as a (fake) thermometer. Once users figured out that the external button was sham, they wrote all kinds of 1-star reviews on itunes. So this company decided to make an actual thermometer, which would still plug into the headphone jack - only this time, it was a real thermometer. Fast Company jokingly teases this 'app' a bit when they ask "why would you use this thing?"
No one, is the answer to the rhetorical question. Except everyone wanting to know the temperature of a baby. And then wanting to directly download that information to that patient's medical record. In advanced hospitals, this is exactly what's done. Rolling 'vital sign' machines check the temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and other important patient data and then uplink this information to a central server. But in remote field settings, having this bulky equipment may not be so handy. What would be quite helpful is the micro-sizing of this equipment a
nd then linking it to an iphone like device.
Right now, temperature, pulse oximetry, and simple blood tests (like hemoglobin or glucose levels) can possibly be done through a simple iphone interface. But we still can't tell blood pressure without a sphygmomanometer, malnutrition levels without weight scales, or infection causes without sizable laboratories. And while these are concepts two steps removed from current reality, ten years ago, would we have imagined that our mobile phone could order us pizza, trade stocks, pay bills at a local store...or take a room's temperature?