Meet Startup @TW

Business boom for temperature-measuring tech startups during the coronavirus outbreak

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Since January, Covid-19, the novel coronavirus with origins in China, has been spreading rampantly across the world. By the time this article was published, the virus, recently declared a pandemic by the WHO, has infected thousands of people, with more than 350,000 positive cases confirmed.

As precautionary measures, the population starts to wear face masks and avoid physical contact with others to protect themselves from the highly contagious virus. It has also become commonplace for people to have their temperature checked before entering public spaces, especially hospitals and clinics.

In Taiwan, infrared temperature systems for mass screening can be seen in many high pedestrian areas like train stations and shopping malls. Earlier in March, Taipei Metro announced it may refuse to offer transport services to passengers that present a body temperature higher than 38°C.

The situation, grim as it is for everyone, has proved to be a boon for thermometer manufacturers in Taiwan like Taidoc; it's expecting to sell twice the amount of forehead thermometers in March than it did in February. Others like Avita and Radiant Innovation have also noticed the increased demand for their products as numbers of their shares traded on the stock market skyrocket.

Camera lens module for infrared temperature screening

Alongside these established companies, some startups have also seen business boom as many countries attempt to contain the virus. For example, ADE Technology, a company developing its own camera lens module for infrared temperature screening, says it expects to ramp up its annual production to 200,000 units by the end of the year.

Local schools have been installing the aforementioned module on their own surveillance camera to undergo temperature scans for students and teachers before they enter the campus. With the gadget installed, the surveillance camera can measure their temperature when they’re one to two meters away from it and report cases of fever in real time.

ADE Technology's camera lens module installed on surveillance camera.
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The entire system serves as a convenient replacement for ear thermometers, which are widely used in many public spaces. For schools, a module for an existing camera is also way more affordable than a new set of screening facilities. In response, ADE Technology stated that it plans to lower the price of its proprietary surveillance system, making it one quarter to one fifth of the price of similar systems manufactured by international brands.

The world’s smallest smart thermometer

iWEECARE is another startup that came to the spotlight due to the virus outbreak. The five-year-old company has been known for its mini wearable thermometer named Temp Pal. It’s so far the world’s smallest smart thermometer, which connects to the cloud and an app on the phone to provide real-time access to temperature data. Approved in the US and EU, it’s also a precise thermometer with a range of +/- 0.05 degrees of accuracy.

Temp Pal, a wearable thermometer that connects to an app on the phone to provide real-time access to temperature data.

As a B2C company, iWEECARE's target customers have long been mother-to-be and parents with newborn kids, who are sensitive to changes in body temperature. It’s only until recent months that it sees a significant growth as a B2B business. Since January, orders for Temp Pal from medical institutions across the world have been flowing in, including orders from Thailand and China.

The major reason behind such growth is their competitive advantage: Temp Pal allows healthcare workers to check the body temperature of multiple patients simultaneously without having any physical contact with them. Considering the duty of medical staff to take patients’ temperatures once every one or two hours, it is not difficult to imagine how helpful the functionality of their products turns out to be.

The Taiwanese company has been selling this temperature tracking solution to ten global markets, including countries worst hit by the coronavirus like Spain, Italy,and Germany. Interestingly, it has also been exhibited in a science museum in the UK.

In September last year, iWEECARE had raised a $1M Pre-A round led by Singapore’s Verge HealthTech Fund and participated by Taiwan- and US-based Translink Capital and Darwin Venture, seeking to disrupt a market forecast to reach $1.5 billion by 2025, currently dominated by digital pen and ear thermometers, according to e27.

Bryan Chou

Bryan Chou is a Taiwan-based and born journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship for Business Next and Meet. Over the past five years, he has written for a student press, translated numerous magazine pieces, and worked as an intern in two startups. He believes what shapes him into who he is today is not only these experiences but the people he has interacted with and the stories he has learned from them.

He has a BA in Foreign languages and literatures from NTU. After graduation, he spent a year in Prague, traveling extensively around Europe to learn about the history and culture of the region from local people. Currently based in Taipei, he hopes to present the best of Taiwan to the world.