I tell you; you never know what new thing is going to come your way these days. For example, I just heard from my chum Alan Rocker, who is a Perl and Linux instructor by day and an amateur epistemologist in his spare time. Alan contacted me to say: “It’s obvious that you like displays — the more blinkenlights the better — but take a look at this device. It’s a non-contact thermometer and it’s a very reasonable accessory to plug into a smartphone, but why does it include a bloody great LCD panel when it’s connected to a device with a 4-inch high-resolution screen? The interface can clearly carry the data, all it needs is a minimal piece of software to display the result. Maybe there’s the root of a column here: ‘What designers should omit’?”
Non-contact smartphone thermometer accessory (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: Banggood.com)
The device in question is a portable, non-contact, infrared thermometer that plugs into your smartphone. You can select the color (black or white) and the desired interface (Android, Apple Lightning connector, or USB Type-C). Actually, this is a real bargain at US$6.99 plus US$2.78 shipping. Quite apart from its “Oooh, Shiny!” factor, it would be handy to check the temperature of anyone entering your home or office. I couldn’t help myself — I ordered one — I will report further when it arrives. As an aside, this might be a good time to revisit my What the FAQ are Celsius and Fahrenheit? and What the FAQ are Kelvin, Rankine et al? columns, but we digress… While we’re here, I feel honor bound to make note of the fact that Alan was mistaken regarding the display. It’s not a “bloody great LCD panel” but rather a “bloody great OLED display.” Still and all, he does have a point. I would have thought that the largest component cost was the display, and this cost could have been removed (and the device dramatically reduced in size) by providing a free app to run on the smartphone to provide the display. On the other hand… as the design stands, it appears that the smartphone’s only task is to provide power. In turn, this means the device can be powered by any appropriate USB supply. Also, having a self-contained display means its creators didn’t have to take the time to create an app that they would subsequently have been obliged to support, so maybe there’s reason behind the madness. As a final note, I just remembered my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) telling me a tale regarding her first marriage. Gina’s original spouse, who shall remain nameless, kept an electronic thermometer in one of their kitchen drawers. Once, when he was brought low with a fever, Gina popped this thermometer under his tongue so quickly that he didn’t fully register what she was doing. It was only when Gina removed the thermometer to check the result that he realized she had used the unit he reserved for the dog. Suffice it to say that this particular device was traditionally not inserted under the tongue, but rather in the… perhaps its best if we arsk no questions. How about you? Could you be tempted by one of these devices? And do you have any thermometer-related stories you’d care to share?