In the world of wearable technology, we’ve seen everything from fitness tracking watches to sunglasses that can take pictures.
But now, researchers from the University of Washington have taken wearable tech to a whole new level with the Thermal Earring.
This innovative accessory isn’t just a fashion statement—it’s a smart way to monitor your body temperature, right from your earlobe.
The Thermal Earring is small and lightweight, similar to a paperclip, but don’t let its size fool you.
It’s packed with technology that allows it to monitor your earlobe’s temperature continuously. In tests, this smart earring proved to be more accurate at measuring skin temperature than a smartwatch, especially during rest.
It can also detect changes that might indicate you’re stressed, eating, exercising, or even when a woman is ovulating.
What sets the Thermal Earring apart is its design. It has a 28-day battery life and uses a magnetic clip to attach a temperature sensor to your ear. A second sensor hangs down, about an inch lower, to measure the room’s temperature.
This clever design means the earring can tell the difference between your body heat and the heat around you. Plus, you can personalize it with different designs, like flowers or gemstones, without affecting its accuracy.
The brains behind this gadget, co-lead authors Qiuyue (Shirley) Xue, a doctoral student, and Yujia (Nancy) Liu, a master’s student at the time of the research, aimed to create a wearable that was both functional and stylish.
They understood that not everyone loves the look of a smartwatch, and saw an opportunity to gather unique health data from the earlobe, an area more consistent for temperature reading than the wrist or hand.
Creating such a small device that doesn’t need constant charging was a challenge. The team focused on making the earring as energy-efficient as possible, incorporating a Bluetooth chip, a battery, two temperature sensors, and an antenna into its tiny frame.
It uses a special Bluetooth mode to save power, waking up only to measure temperature and then going back to sleep.
This smart earring is still in the prototype stage and isn’t available for sale yet. However, its potential uses are exciting.
For example, in a small study, the earring was able to distinguish between the temperatures of patients with fevers and healthy individuals, suggesting it could be a valuable tool for monitoring illness over time. Continuous monitoring can provide a clearer picture of a fever’s progression, helping doctors determine if treatments are working.
Dr. Mastafa Springston, a co-author of the study and clinical instructor at the UW School of Medicine, highlighted the importance of tracking fevers for medical treatment. This device could make it easier to monitor a patient’s response to medication over time.
The Thermal Earring represents a significant step forward in wearable technology, blending fashion with function. It opens up new possibilities for health monitoring, making it easier and more stylish than ever to keep an eye on your well-being.