For a parent, there is nothing worse than finding out your kid isn’t feeling well—except, perhaps, having to take their temperature.
Until children are three years old, doctors recommend taking temperatures rectally for the most accurate readings. For a child who is already sick and tired, this can be very uncomfortable; for a parent already sick with worry, it can be downright torture.
This is why ear probe thermometers, which give precise readings in as little as one second, have been so popular with parents. These devices—similar to the thermometers used in hospitals—can be gentle enough to use on a sleeping baby, which means less fuss and more accurate readings.
Smart thermometer company Kinsa—which was founded in 2012 by Inder Sigh, the former EVP of the Clinton Foundation’s Health Access Initiative—has developed a range of connected devices for parents, including a smart ear thermometer and a “smart stick” that is similar to the traditional thermometer but is linked to your smartphone (which cost $49.99 and $19.99 respectively).
Today, Kinsa is launching a product that uses Sesame Street characters to make the process of taking temperatures more fun for kids. The new ear thermometer is emblazoned with Elmo’s face; Elmo’s nose doubles as the “on” button.
More importantly, the device is linked to a free companion app that features Elmo offering empathy and words of encouragement. If the app detects that the child has a fever, Elmo might say, “Sorry you aren’t feeling well,” or “Feel better soon.” Other cute animations in the app make the experience feel like a game, rather than a chore.
“We were trying to figure out if we could transform taking temperatures from something that kids dread to something that they kind of look forward to,” Lauren Davis, Kinsa’s VP of marketing, told Fast Company.
The app is also useful for parents. Aside from offering a quick reading, it provides immediate feedback about whether the child has a fever and just how bad it is. Parents can keep track of symptoms and create separate profiles for different kids or adults in the family. The app even suggests actionable next steps based on the child’s age and health indicators.
With a price tag of $59.99, the Sesame Street Smart Ear Thermometer is more expensive than other smart thermometers on the market, which can cost as little as $20. But the company hopes parents will find the device’s bells and whistles are worth the cost. The thermometer is currently available on the Kinsa website and will soon be sold at Target.
This marks Sesame Street’s first partnership with a connected medical device company. Gabriela Arenas, Sesame Street’s VP of licensing in North America, explains that the company is picky about where its characters appear, to ensure the brand is not diluted. “Our mission, as a brand, is helping people be smarter, stronger, and kinder,” Arenas told Fast Company. “When your kid is sick, that is a very challenging time as a parent and as a child. We saw this as a way in which we could have our characters help families through those moments.”