Hong Kong-based IoT consumer tech startup Zeraph has an ingenious remedy for those sick of sticking a thermometer into one of their orifice to measure their temperature: one that does not need to even come in contact with your skin.
Its product Flo is a smart thermometer with no wires and no charging docks. Instead, it uses an infrared sensor to scan for your temperature; just hover it above your head! It runs on one of those tiny CR2032 battery typically found vintage SLR film cameras.
This palm-sized device looks less like a menacing medical device–and more like a toy you would find in your baby’s crib. It doesn’t even have an LCD screen to display the temperature–all it has is tiny LED light that displays three colour: white, green, red.
And as the colours may suggest, white means it is chilly, green indicates that your body temperature is healthy, and red, well, it means you need to get an ice pack and dial for a doctor real quick.
If you wish to find out the exact temperature, you can connect it to your smartphone via Bluetooth and view it via the app. You can also use Flo to measure the surface temperature of objects such as liquids.
Beyond that, the Flo app has a social feature allowing you to track the temperature statistics of you or your child and share it with your doctor. The device has an inbuilt camera function–which may seem frivolous for a device like this–allowing you to take pictures for you and your family’s profile.
e27 spoke to Zeraph’s Co-founder Eddie Cheung, to find out more about the motivations behind the startup and his plans for going forward.
Here are the edited excerpts.
Can you tell me more about the company?
Zeraph is a Hong Kong based company with teams from US, Canada and Hong Kong. We formed Zeraph in 2015 but founders have worked with each other long before that.
My background is in programming and I have developed smart home devices in the past. Henry is on the hardware side and has 10 years of experience with manufacturing and sourcing. We have a team member who has developed many types of thermometers and is familiar with getting certification for different countries.
We also have a consultant specialising in working with hospital on medical devices and he helps us making sure our devices would appeal to health care professionals.
When and how did you come up with the idea?
Henry and I are longtime friends and now we have kids. In early 2014, we started talking about how inconvenient it is to use the smart thermometers on the market as it requires one to find the phone, unlock, run app; you get the idea.
Smart should mean more than just sharing data to phone, we should make the user experience smarter and more efficient [use] too.
This core concept helped us to focus on ease of use when making design decisions. The one-button control, the ability to work without a phone and save data for later syncing, the speech mode are all some of the major design choices guided by this principle.
We also want to move beyond focusing just on hardware aspect of Flo and help parents track and share body temperatures. This led to timeline and photo tagging features let parents add context to each data point with photos, notes, tags and locations.
How big is the company now?
We have three founders, two from Hong Kong and one from US. We also have two engineers and one designer supporting us. Flo is designed in Hong Kong and will be made in Guangdong area.
Has the company received external funding, and if so, how much and from whom?
Company received no external funding. All the initial investments came from the founders.
What are a few challenges faced by the company?
Even though Henry and I have plenty experience making consumer product and collaborating with each other, it still takes time to get up to speed.
There is no simple [way] around it and we just have to spend time working together and find good people to join us. For example, we also don’t have a lot of experience with marketing so we needed to find someone who can help us. Luckily we found someone with experience launching consumer product and working with the media.
We relied heavily on past experience and contacts as it helped us navigating potential issues and solving problems.
How does the product differentiate itself from competitors?
- Flo is a lot smaller than its competitors
- It’s non-invasive.
- Works with or without phone, saves data for syncing later.
- Just much faster operation, no need to open any apps.
- More social functions like timeline, photo tagging and sharing.
- Speech features and excellent compatibility due to universal nature of Bluetooth.
- Competitively priced, only at US$39.99 compared Withings Thermo at $100.
How does the company generate revenue?
We will earn our revenue mostly through hardware sales but will expand into software as well.
What are your plans for the next six months?
We are looking to finish the Kickstarter campaign so we can get ready to start production while polishing the software. We are already in talks to enter major markets and preparing to meet local regulatory environment.
We are also confident on fulfilling our delivery promises to our backers in May as injection molding is already done. We would like have distributions most major countries by that time and have launch one more product.
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