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Smartphone thermometer will take your temperature and track the flu

Power Pitch

Kinsa is a startup that's set out to revolutionize one of the world’s most common medical devices— and it's doing it by connecting the thermometer to your smart phone.  Not only can the device take your temperature, but the company's CEO Inder Singh says it will ultimately track colds, flu and disease, empowering users with real-time information to stay healthy.

“Today a fever is a helpful indicator of illness but it doesn't guide you, it doesn't give you any context as to what to do, our thermometer does,” said Singh.

Watch the founder pitch his plan in just 60 seconds. Will he sway the panelists to give him a positive diagnosis? Click the video above and judge for yourself!

Before starting Kinsa, Singh,  who was trained at Harvard Medical School, worked for the Clinton Foundation’s Health Access Initiative. He negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies, and in turn gave millions of people suffering from HIV and malaria access to life-saving medicine.

However, Singh realized there was no simple way to monitor where and how fast disease was spreading. He believed having this information would play a key role in helping people stay healthy. As a result, he assembled a team and launched Kinsa. 

How does it work?

The company’s first product is the Kinsa Smart Thermometer and it is entirely powered by a smartphone, which is connected to the thermometer through the headphone jack. After downloading and setting up Kinsa’s free mobile application, users can track their temperature and input additional information about their symptoms. Kinsa’s app also has a feature which can help locate and book a doctor in your area.

Singh said the thermometer and app have been designed specifically with parents and children in mind.

“Children happen to be the primary spreader of germs,” explained Singh. “And parents are already power users of thermometers, so why not piggy back off that behavior and create a smarter, better, less expensive thermometer.”

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Tracking disease

Several features that will help track disease are still in development. The first is a private group feature set to debut this April. Parents, for example, can set up a group for their child’s school and can anonymously share data about their child’s health. Singh said this will help other parents respond appropriately to their child’s symptoms.

Singh told CNBC another feature they are working on is “local health weather” which will display information about what’s going around in your local neighborhood. Users will be able to input their ZIP code, and similar to a weather app, the health weather of their area will show up. This feature will aggregate data from Kinsa’s app as well as the CDC, social media, search query data and other third-party data. Singh said this will be coming out in time for next year’s flu season.

Since privacy is a concern for users, the sharing feature will require users to opt in. And while folks will be able to see what illnesses are going around at school or in their neighborhood, they will not be able to see the temperature or symptoms of individual users.

Power Pitch panelist and NEA partner Patrick Chung was concerned about regulations the start-up will face.

“We’re health-care guys who understand the regulations globally and really are thoughtful on how we develop these features,” Singh responded. “We are not creating content, we’re simply curating content.”

37 Angels founder Angela Lee had concerns about giving the public too much information and in effect scaring people.

Singh replied, “We’re proponents of democratization of access to information … and we think it’s a good thing, net net and long term.”

The Kinsa Smart Thermometer is the first mobile connected thermometer approved by the FDA. The Kinsa application is currently compatible with the iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S (AAPL) and iPod Touch 5. An Android app (GOOG) is also in the works.

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The website is taking preorders (with a price of $19.99) and the thermometers will start shipping next month. Singh said Kinsa has already presold more than 2,500 thermometers and he expects that as the volume of sales go up, the price will come down.

Kinsa, which was founded in 2012, has seven full-time employees and has raised $3 million from IA Ventures, Founder Collective, Christy Jones, Ed Park, and Andy Palmer, and Google Executives.

See Inder Singh power pitch his start-up @kinsahealth to Power Pitch host Mandy Drury @CNBCMandy, NEA partner Patrick Chung @patrickchung @NEAVC and 37 Angels Founder Angela Lee @37angelsny.

—Additional reporting by Joanna Weinstein and Ray Parisi

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