The last time my son had a cold, we couldn’t determine for sure if he had a fever because he wouldn’t hold still long enough for us to keep a thermometer under his arm (or anywhere else). Not long after, we were offered the Exergen Smart Glow Temporal Scanner to review, and I knew we had to give it a shot!
The Smart Glow Temporal Scanner is an external digital thermometer. Instead of holding it in your mouth, under your arm, or ear, you just slide the sensor over your forehead for a reasonably accurate measure of your temperature. The SmartGlow measures your arterial temperature, which the company explains is more accurate than regular skin temperature measurements. From their FAQ:
A major reason ear thermometers are considered inaccurate by medical professionals is because the positioning of the probe in the ear canal is inconsistent, thus creating inconsistent readings and frequently missing fevers. The temporal artery thermometer scans the forehead area for the temporal artery and it is almost impossible to miss the artery during a scan. Also, the person whose temperature is being taken does not like something inserted in their ear, making good positioning even more difficult. The gentle scan across the forehead is comfortable and not objectionable. The Temporal Scanner has been proven more accurate than ear thermometers by a Harvard Medical School study.
It also works in just a few seconds, so even if you’re dealing with a squirmy child you can quickly get a read on their temperature. In fact, everything about the Exergen Smart Glow is designed to make it quick and unobtrusive; the probe sensor is relatively smooth and doesn’t feel harsh or scratch your skin, and you can turn off the beeping sounds if you are checking someone’s temperature while they are sleeping. It feels like a fairly solid device, so even if your patient flails and tries to toss it (or interprets it as a SUPER COOL TOY like my son did) it should hold up to the abuse. Also, because the probe just slides across your skin and doesn’t have to go into the mouth or spend extended contact with someone’s skin, it’s fairly easy to just wipe it off and disinfect it for the next use. There’s also something very Star Trek about just waving a wand over your forehead to get your temperature.
I tested the Exergen Smart Glow against our old faithful oral digital thermometer from CVS, and I found the measurements to be quite close. My oral temperature came back at 96 degrees, and my Smart Glow measurement was 95.4. Considering I had just taken the dog outside, and my skin was probably a bit clammy, that seemed remarkably accurate. At other times when I just used the Smart Glow, my temperature came in between 96.5 and 97 degrees, which is about right for me. My son’s came in at 97.5, and since he was not sick or sleeping there was no way he was holding still for a comparative measurement, but that seemed about right for him too. The dog clocked in at 95, but I was unsure where a temporal artery was on a dog, plus he has fur. However, just the fact that I could run around taking everyone’s temperatures showed how simple and fast the Smart Glow was to use once we understood it.
And that’s really my biggest quibble with the device. I took it out of the box and could not figure out how to measure my temperature without reading (and then rereading) the instructions. It’s actually not hard, you just hold the probe against your head, THEN press and hold the front button, but something about it was just not intuitive, and it took a few tries to get it right. I handed it to my wife Sarah, and she also struggled for a moment with it. This is mostly a case of “read the manual”/user error, but it’s worth noting that you will need to review how to use it with a babysitter or caretaker if they’ve never used one before.
Aside from the confusion at the start, this is a great device. It automatically holds the last eight temperatures taken, so if you’re trying to track if a fever is on the rise or fall, it’s a simple matter of tapping the front button to scroll through the various readings. It does take a 9-volt battery, which you may not have lying around, but one came in the packaging. I wish it came with a protective case, as the only protection it has is a plastic cap for the probe. It’s a small cap, a bit bigger than a quarter, and I could see it being lost almost immediately. A small pouch, or a hinge to attach the cover to the probe, would work better.
The Exergen Smart Glow Temporal Scanner is not a cheap device at $49.99, but it works remarkably well and can help your family in a time of illness. If you’re struggling to measure temperatures well, or you want to make sure you have an easy way to get accurate readings and a history of temperature changes, this is an excellent choice!
Source: The Exergen Smart Glow Temporal Scanner Thermometer was a manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Incredibly easy to get a reading even on a squirmy child; holds multiple readings for later reference; solid build quality; easy to disinfect probe
What Needs Improvement: A bit confusing to use out of the box; protective cap is small and easy to lose