San Francisco-based Kinsa, makers of the FDA-cleared smartphone-connected thermometer, announced today a new version of its product, with a redesign that turns the medical device into an easily recognizable children’s character: Elmo of Sesame Street.
In partnership with Sesame Workshop, Kinsa took its existing technology and infused it with all the elements of Elmo – his unmistakable red color, his familiar, childlike voice and giggle – to create a device that aims to make temperature taking easier for parents and maybe even enjoyable for children.
“As we were thinking the process of a new project through, we kept thinking that children are the primary spreaders of illness,” Lauren Davis, VP of marketing for Kinsa told MobiHealthNews. “They are the petri dishes. We wanted to get the word out to parents and partner with someone we could really trust, and Sesame is the most trusted parent brand.”
The Elmo Smart Ear thermometer combines temperature readings with symptom tracking and actionable next steps based on age and key health indicators, just like the original Kinsa offering. But enhancing the experience are empathetic words from Elmo through the companion app, letting kids know, among other encouragements, that he is “sorry they aren’t feeling well,” and to “feel better soon.”
“Some of the most challenging times for both kids and caregivers are when a child isn’t feeling well,” said Gabriela Arenas, VP of licensing for Sesame in a statement. “We are pleased to work with companies like Kinsa, who, like us, are committed to providing support to keep families healthy and happy.”
The collaboration between Sesame and Kinsa began about a year ago. Kinsa wanted to have more of an impact on early childhood healthcare, and Sesame has been looking to partner with mission-driven companies since before it announced its venture capital fund in February.
“They were interested in doing everything they could to reach younger audience and millennial parents, and they recognized that the future is in connected products,” said Davis.
The Kinsa team found their way to Sesame Street (Workshops) in New York City, got to know all the characters and settled on Elmo, since he has been the one who the littlest kids – baby through four or five years old – seem to trust the most.
“For a little thermometer company, this was really fun,” Davis said.
The Elmo Smart Ear Thermometer retails at $59.99 and is available starting today from its website. It will also be on Amazon and on shelves in some Target stores nationwide as part of the chain's new “connected baby” initiative starting in August. The store also recently announced they would have a digital health section in 500 locations.
Davis said there are additional distribution deals and channels opening up down the line, as well as more specific programs planned for hospitals and clinics.