TempTraq, a Blue Spark Technologies company, has created a wearable, wireless thermometer in the form of a soft and comfortable patch that monitors body temperature continuously for 24 hours. This product has been used in consumer homes for some time now, but more recently the company has been working on a 72-hour version of its FDA-cleared medical device intended for use in hospitals, healthcare facilities, and clinical environments where the ability to monitor real-time temperatures for a few days can be important for better patient care, prognosis, and outcome. The fact that TempTraq is disposable can also help promote hygienic healthcare practices and give doctors and nurses a smarter way to track, log, and respond to fevers quickly without worrying about the hassle of sterilizing the device between uses. Treatments can be quickly adapted as soon as fluctuations in temperatures are seen, and moreover, this device works directly with hospital central monitoring systems and electronic health records (EHR) to safely and securely store patient healthcare data. TempTraq relies on TempTraq Connect, a secure, HIPAA-compliant service supported by the Google Healthcare Cloud Platform.
We are pleased to bring you an exclusive interview with John Gannon, the CEO of Blue Spark Technologies.
Alice Ferng, Medgadget: Please tell us about yourself, your role in the company, and about your team. When was TempTraq created and how long has TempTraq been a product in circulation?
John Gannon, Blue Spark Technologies: My engineering background and experience in the technology, along with venture capital, led me to lead Blue Spark Technologies as CEO and to the commercialization of our innovative product TempTraq. It’s the only wearable, wireless temperature monitor in the form of a soft, comfortable patch to continuously monitor body temperature. We launched TempTraq at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015 when the wearable health tech space was really taking off. We received FDA clearance in September 2015, which allowed us to sell the product for the first time online. In 2016, we expanded nationwide in brick-and-mortar retail stores, having TempTraq available in over 20,000 retail locations including Target, CVS and Walgreens stores across the country.
Matthew Ream is the co-inventor of TempTraq and serves as Blue Spark Technologies Executive Vice President of Marketing and Innovation where he is responsible for worldwide marketing, creating, defining and implementing our go-to-market strategy.
John Baragar is our Vice President of Sales and is responsible for developing and implementing our roll-out plans for the retail, institutional and business-to-business applications of the TempTraq technology. He is an accomplished sales professional with significant experience in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, both in health care and food.
Jon Eager is our Vice President of Business Development. He provides marketing, engineering and product management support to Blue Spark Technologies and has been instrumental in developing and launching TempTraq.
Dr. Frank Feddrix is our Vice President of Operations and Battery Technology. He is responsible to all manufacturing and operational activity for Blue Spark Technologies, and is former CTO of Energizer.
Medgadget: Who conceived of the idea to create this temperature monitor and what was the inspiration?
Gannon: Blue Spark Technologies was founded in 2002 as Thin Battery Technologies, Inc. The company’s initial focus was to develop thin, flexible printed batteries built on Intellectual Property (IP) licensed from the Eveready Battery Company (now Energizer). The patented IP was the result of years of Eveready knowledge, experience, research and development. Initially, private investors led by Early Stage Partners made significant investments to further develop, test and commercialize this revolutionary technology.
To signal the next stage of growth and adoption of thin-printed battery technology, the company evolved to become Blue Spark Technologies. Today, Blue Spark Technologies develops end-use solutions for customers that are enabled by its thin, flexible and safe battery technology. In 2015, we introduced a near field communication (NFC) temperature data logging label. The NFC data logger is a supply chain label that records temperature readings of goods in the supply chain. The data is then collected via NFC and sent to an Android™ smartphone app developed by Blue Spark. This led us to believe that our technology could be applied to other real-life uses.
Matt Ream and I were discussing the NFC Data Logger and when I suggested the idea of sticking the NFC Data Logger to a forehead in order to measure human temperature. Matt (an electrical engineer) and I (an aerospace engineer) then began defining a product concept and began a Skunk Works engineering project to design a prototype of a wearable, Band-aid-like continuous temperature monitor. Through a number spins through innovation, cutting edge engineering and market feedback, the NFC forehead monitor evolved into a Bluetooth temperature monitor that measured axillary temperature and TempTraq was born. We saw a need for a digital thermometer that eliminates having to disturb a sick child. TempTraq was created to fulfill this need for today’s busy and tech-savvy parents. And while parents have been a main target for our product, TempTraq is a device for all ages. Caregivers looking to monitor aging or ill parents can benefit from TempTraq as well – It can offer extended independence for those who are aging or ill, while offering peace of mind for caregivers.
Medgadget: There are other wearable, wireless temperature monitors on the market such as Cosinuss, an in-ear wearable, classic chest straps, or other wrist monitors – how does your product stand out from competitors? What are the main advantages of the patch?
Gannon: TempTraq is the only wearable, wireless temperature monitor on the market in the form of a soft comfortable patch that is disposable and FDA-Cleared for professional grade accuracy. TempTraq is FDA-Cleared for all ages and is currently being piloted in several hospitals. Unlike other devices that provide users with only one point of data and offer no continuous monitoring or alerts, the accompanying free downloadable Apple® or Android™ compatible TempTraq app allows users of all ages to reach a new level of health care. It displays both real-time and historical temperature data transmitted from the patch in graphical or tabular views, making it possible for caregivers to see fluctuations and quickly adapt treatment, if necessary. TempTraq alleviates many concerns of those caring for a sick child or patient, including eliminating the need to continually disturb or wake them when rest is critical to a speedy recovery. Our wearable patch delivers continuous temperature readings and even sends alerts to mobile devices when the child reaches a pre-determined, user-set temperature level. The single-use, hygienic design eliminates the hassles of cleaning the device between uses or among different users.
Medgadget: Who are your main competitors in the temperature monitor space?
Gannon: We don’t believe we have competitors in our space. Our product is truly one-of-a-kind, able to offer parents and caregivers the opportunity to monitor their child or patient’s temperature in real-time, as well as receive alerts. Its single-use design is also unique and hygienic, eliminating the hassles of cleaning the device between uses or among different uses. Additionally, we are continuing to develop the clinical applications of TempTraq as we are working closely with a number of premier hospitals on various implementations of the technology in the clinical setting through trials and pilot implementations. We are working directly with health care institutions to position TempTraq as the new standard of care for temperature monitoring. Plus, through TempTraq Connect, a secure HIPAA-compliant service supported by Google Healthcare Cloud Platform, we will be able to allow direct integration with healthcare providers’ electronic health records (EHR) systems and central nurse’s stations.
Medgadget: What are the main limitations and challenges regarding the use of your product right now? It seems like battery life is one; how reliable are the measurements if the patch were to get soaked or soiled during use?
Gannon: Our proprietary thin, flexible battery is what makes TempTraq comfortable to wear, especially for fidgety children. When we first launched the product in 2015, we started with offering 24 hours of continuous temperature monitoring. As we received consumer feedback, we realized there was value in offering a 48-hour version for parents whose children were dealing with fevers for a more extended period of time. Through our proprietary technology, we were able to accomplish a longer battery life without sacrificing comforts for the wearer. The 48-hour patch will be available in May 2017. A 72-hour Hospital version of TempTraq will also be available in May 2017.
In regards to reliability of the temperature measurements, it is highly accurate. The FDA-cleared patch measures temperatures between 87.0 and 109.3°F. It is required to comply with, and has been tested to the ASTM E1112-00 standard, which is required for all clinical digital thermometers. As with any method for taking axillary body temperature, to get the most accurate readings, the arm should be relaxed by the child’s side. When the arm is relaxed by the side, the temperature sensor is enclosed, providing the most accurate body temperature readings. TempTraq is IP24 rated for water resistance and getting wet has no impact on its performance.
Medgadget: For consumer use, TempTraq is supposed to be placed on dry skin in the center of the armpit. Those with a fever often produce a lot of sweat. Does this affect adhesion of the patch and reliability of data collection?
Gannon: Similar to adhesive bandages, the TempTraq wearable patch is durable, water resistant and safe under normal use circumstances. The TempTraq patch is made of safe-to-use, soft, flexible, non-latex materials that wearable patches are commonly designed with. We recommend removing the patch for bath time and reapplying it afterward. If your child is experiencing bouts of sweatiness, you can also remove the patch, dry the area and reapply. Additionally, the adhesive used in our product is comparable to what hospitals use in neo-natal units and has been tested for biocompatibility based on FDA guidelines.
Medgadget: Does positioning of the patient (e.g., standing, supine, on their side) affect the reliability of the readings?
Gannon: As with other methods for taking a child’s axillary (underarm) body temperature, to get the most accurate body temperature readings, the arm should be relaxed by the child’s side. When the arm is relaxed by the side, the temperature sensor is enclosed, providing the most accurate body temperature readings.
Medgadget: I understand this product is a single-use product that retails for $20 in non-clinical settings. While it may be convenient in the clinical setting, has it been difficult to convince consumers (parents at home) to purchase these sensors since other monitoring options may be more cost efficient for this population? Or has your market strategy changed to focus solely on hospitals and healthcare facilities?
Gannon: Before going to market, we surveyed hundreds of moms, in particular, to determine a price they would be comfortable with and this price resonated extremely well with them. Our retail partners also see the strong value and uniqueness from our product as it’s now carried in major nationwide stores and online through retailers like CVS, Target, Walgreens, Amazon and more.
TempTraq is typically used when a child is sick or the parent suspects a fever. The value we are really offering these parents is peace of mind and a restful night’s sleep. Our consumers are constantly communicating their appreciation for TempTraq. Many parents’ children suffer from febrile seizures. Oftentimes, one of the first symptoms is a spike in temperature. For parents witnessing their child experiencing one of these, it can be a very scary situation. Our product allows them to better monitor their child so they can take quick action – whether that’s simply calling a doctor or delivering medication.
We don’t plan to focus solely on hospitals and healthcare facilities as we know there is a strong need for our product in the consumer marketplace. However, we are working in a number of hospitals with the goal of becoming a new standard of care for temperature monitoring in hospitals to create better patient outcomes, higher patient satisfaction, increased efficiencies and even cost savings.
Medgadget: It seems that use of this wearable may be limited to the proximity of the data acquisition device (e.g., cell phone), which is somewhere in the 40-60 feet range. How are healthcare workers able to utilize this data if they are walking around from room to room? What happens if the BLE module disconnects or fails to stay connected with the device? Do layers of clothing and/or blankets affect the integrity of BLE readings?
Gannon: In the Healthcare setting, TempTraq patches will communicate with bedside monitors or bedside gateway devices and will send the data to the TempTraq Connect HIPAA Compliant cloud database. This data will then be sent to the Electronic Health Record or Central Nurses Station where the information is then sent to the healthcare workers. In the health care environment, there will not be a “device” as is used in the home setting. The TempTraq patch is operating in advertising mode so there is no risk of a loss of pairing as that is not part of the communication process. Layers of clothing or blankets do not affect the integrity of the readings.
Medgadget: What are other interesting features of the TempTraq patch or future product innovations that you’d like to share with the Medgadget audience? Are there any variants of this product being developed?
Gannon: We really see our technology as a wireless sensor platform to improve the healthcare space, especially as it relates to wearable technology. We have ample battery overhead to add additional sensor capability to the platform beyond a temperature sensor. And through TempTraq Connect, a secure, HIPAA-compliant service supported by the Google Healthcare Cloud Platform, the device works directly with hospital central monitoring systems and electronic health records (EHR) to safely and securely store patient health care data. It’s the only solution for doctors and nurses who need a smarter way to track, log and respond to fevers quickly. Unlike other devices that provide physicians with only one point of data and offer no continuous monitoring or alerts, TempTraq makes it possible for caregivers to see fluctuations and quickly adapt treatment. Plus, no more waking patients to take their temperatures.
Link: TempTraq homepage…
Flashbacks: TempTraq Thermometer Now Available to Monitor Fevers Continuously for 24 Hours; Medgadget @ CES 2016 Recap: Sensors Upon Sensors TempTraq Thermometer Patch Tracks Kids’ Fevers for 24 Hours (VIDEO);
Photo credit: DigitalTrends.com