You can buy them for a few euros at a chemist’s, but there was a time when they were only seen in space agencies labs. These are infrared thermometers which, unlike traditional mercury thermometers (banned due to their high toxicity), are quite accurate and take just one second to measure our body temperature. It is exciting to know as well that these devices had a very interesting previous life: they took the temperature… of planets!
Until 1991, the use of infrared thermometers was limited to the astronomical field. The space thermometer was mainly used to measure the temperature of stars and planets through the radiation emitted by these. One day, a manufacturer of health products came up with the same idea, but on a human scale.
Said and done. After a titanic effort, a company launched the first infrared thermometer ever, which could measure the temperature of a human body in seconds, by analysing the energy emitted through the eardrum. A major milestone for primary care medicine.
Interesting fact: you may wonder why infrared thermometers measure the energy emitted from the eardrum and not other body parts. The reason is very simple. Being inside the body, within the ear canal, the eardrum provides much more accurate data than other, more external organs, such as the skin.