Smart Earring Thermal Earring

The next big smart wearable may not be the next Apple Watch or rumoured Samsung smart ring. Prepare for a new smart accessory: smart earrings. In particular, the Thermal Earring.

Created by the University of Washington, the Thermal Earring is a wireless wearable that can monitor a user’s temperature via the earlobe. This may not sound like much, but according to the university’s findings, the earring “outperformed a smartwatch at sensing skin temperature during periods of rest.”

While still a prototype, the smart earring could also monitor signs of stress, eating, exercise and ovulation. Testing on six users during research, the earring’s reading varied by 0.58 degrees Fahrenheit (0.32 degrees Celsius) on average, placing it within the range of 0.28 °C to 0.56 °C necessary for ovulation and period tracking. On the other hand, a smartwatch varied by 0.72 °C.

“We found that sensing the skin temperature on the lobe, instead of a hand or wrist, was much more accurate,” said Qiuyue (Shirley) Xue, a computer science and engineering doctoral student and co-lead author on the project. “It also gave us the option to have part of the sensor dangle to separate ambient room temperature from skin temperature.”

Thermal Earrings smart earrings
Thermal Earring prototype via University of Washington

Xue believes wearables with temperature sensors like the Apple Watch and Fitbit can’t accurately monitor readings like ovulation, as they only offer average temperatures of a day and results are “too noisy” from wrists and hands.

The idea came about due to smartwatches being unfashionable and bulky, with the aim to explore applications that would appeal to “women and anyone who cares about fashion.”

As for how it operates, the report states that a magnetic clip attaches one temperature sensor to a wearer’s ear while another sensor dangles about an inch below it to estimate room temperature. Researchers claim it has a 28-day battery life to continuously monitor a user’s temperature accurately, which is a few more weeks than any major smartwatch.

Despite being the size and weight of a paperclip, it manages to fit a Bluetooth chip, a battery, two temperature sensors, and an antenna. To preserve battery, once it reads and sends temperature results, it goes into a “deep sleep.”

Users can fit a gemstone or various designs like a flower to make the smart earrings more fashionable. Findings say that these won’t affect the accuracy of results.

Thermal Earring prototype smart earring
Thermal Earring prototype via University of Washington

The smart earrings present interesting use cases, but they are still in the early stages of development, as researchers need more data through testing. Still, there are more ideas to improve the device, including thoughts on bringing in solar or kinetic energy to charge the earrings.

Apparently, Xue doesn’t want to stop at earrings: “Eventually, I want to develop a jewellery set for health monitoring. The earrings would sense activity and health metrics such as temperature and heart rate, while a necklace might serve as an electrocardiogram monitor for more effective heart health data.”

The Thermal Earring isn’t currently available on the market, with no signs of when it may be available commercially. In the meantime, check out what may be in store for the Samsung Galaxy Ring.

Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.

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