Recent headlines have put a spotlight on the dangers of diagnosing and treating Ebola. Contact with victims of the deadly disease has left several medical professionals with symptoms of their own.
Visiomed, a 90-person medical device company founded in France in 2007, is trying to reduce that danger. It has developed a thermometer, called ThermoFlash, that doesn't require touching the patient. That eliminates the threat of a doctor contracting the virus through contact with fluids (the most common way it's transmitted), as well as the need to continually disinfect the device.
The newest version of ThermoFlash, on display this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, connects to the cloud through the company's free software, giving governments, schools, and other groups instant access to crucial medical data.
"It's very efficient," says Francois Teboul, Visiomed's medical director. "Doctors are complaining that they lack correct information. So through this they can connect directly to the cloud and get very accurate information about [patients'] fevers, where it is, and who's concerned. The ThermoFlash contains a probe that homes in on the infrared wave emitted by a person's temporal artery, screening out the ambient heat and other outside conditions. A doctor holds the device three to five centimeters from the patient's right temple, yielding a reading within one second that's accurate to within 0.2 degrees.
The idea for ThermoFlash dates back to 2003, when Visiomed founder Eric Sebban wanted a way to take his sick baby's temperature without waking it. He began developing an early version of the device and launched the company around it in 2007. Since then Visiomed has branched out into a range of other medical products. Now publicly traded in France but still majority owned by Sebban, the company generated €14 million in 2013.
The growing efforts to combat disease outbreaks around the world continue to increase Visiomed's business. The company has sold tens of thousands of Thermoflashes to NGOs, the U.S. and Swiss armies, the World Health Organization, and the governments of the African nations stricken with Ebola and avian flu. Consumers in the U.S. will be able to begin buying the new version of the device as well shortly after CES for about $60.