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Smart Thermometers Provide a Real-Time View of Spreading Flu Outbreaks

January 16, 2018

Tech-savvy health-concious types are giving interesting insights into this year’s flu.

Real-time tracking: The New York Times reports that Kinsa makes smartphone-paired digital thermometers claimed to be in 500,000 American homes and producing 25,000 data points  each day. From its data, Kinsa says, it can tell Missouri and Iowa are being hit hard by flu this winter, while New York and New England are getting off lighter than usual.

The official line: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says simply that the virus is “widespread.” But it can take longer for the CDC to get hold of data, as it’s passed (or not) up the chain from doctor’s offices. Time will tell if Kinsa is right.

Backstory: This isn’t the first tech tracking of flu: information from Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia has been tapped to follow the virus before. But they all suffered as a result of noisy data from people who maybe just have a plain old cold.

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