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FeverPhone app may transform smartphones into thermometers

Washington, Jun 21 (Prensa Latina) Researchers at the University of Washington have created the FeverPhone app that transforms smartphones into thermometers without adding new hardware.

Instead, it uses the phone’s touchscreen and repurposes the existing battery temperature sensors to gather data that a machine learning model uses to estimate people’s core body temperatures.

When the researchers tested FeverPhone on 37 patients in an emergency department, the app estimated core body temperatures with accuracy comparable to some consumer thermometers.

The app is the first to use existing phone sensors to estimate whether people have fevers. It needs more training data to be widely used, Breda said, but for doctors, the potential of such technology is exciting.

Clinical-grade thermometers use tiny sensors known as thermistors to estimate body temperature. Off-the-shelf smartphones also happen to contain thermistors; they’re mostly used to monitor the temperature of the battery.

To use FeverPhone, the participants held the phones like point-and-shoot cameras — with forefingers and thumbs touching the corner edges to reduce heat from the hands being sensed (some had the researcher hold the phone for them). Then participants pressed the touchscreen against their foreheads for about 90 seconds, which the researchers found to be the ideal time to sense body heat transferring to the phone.