COVID-19 temp patch for under $5 coming soon

SkyWater Technology is manufacturing chips for an adhesive patch that will check temperature and send the data wirelessly to a smartphone app which can be combined with other health data. (SkyWater Technology)

A tech consortium based in the U.S. is mass-producing a small, circular adhesive patch with a wireless temperature sensing chip to aid in COVID-19 detection.

The first patches will ship in July and cost an  end-user less than $5 apiece, a SkyWater Technology spokeswoman told FierceElectronics on Friday.

SkyWater Technology of Bloomington, Minnesota, will manufacture the temperature sensing and wireless chip in volume based on a 130 nm mixed-signal ASIC process, the company said.  Linear ASICs of Ohio designed the chip and helped pick SkyWater to bring the product quickly to market. New York investment firm Asymmetric Return Capital is also a partner in the consortium.

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Without widespread testing and a COVID-19 vaccine, a wearable self-monitoring technology will help people consistently check temperatures, seen as key in detecting the virus.  With a wireless connection from the chip to a smartphone, it is possible to rely on contact tracing apps and exposure notification apps that could help individuals and public health officials trace and limit the spread of the disease.

Temperature testing is likely to become ubiquitous in return-to-work policies and having a domestic supply of low-cost, no-touch thermometers will be critical, ARC founding partner Bryan Wisk said in a statement. The temperature test will also be valuable for use in upcoming flu season, he added.

The temperature sensing chip is planned as part of the health-monitoring solution being developed in partnerships with SensiML, a subsidiary of QuickLogic, as well as Upward Health, an in-home and virtual care provider. 

Portland, Oregon,- based SensiML announced earlier this week it is part of the consortium and can  provide data from cough sounds associated with the virus.

RELATED: Wanted: an audio recording of your cough

Separately, Northwestern University is developing a wearable sensor attached to a person’s throat to detect cough patterns and body temperature.  That project is in an early production phase.

RELATED:  Northwestern creates wearable sensor for detecting COVID-19 symptoms

VLSI Research analyst Dan Hutcheson interviewed SkyWater President Tom Sonderman about the company’s work during the pandemic. In the interview, Sonderman said an employee could wear the patch for 48 hours to give a consistent, real-time temperature reading. 

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