Pixel 8 Pro’s Temperature Sensor: Just a Party Trick?

Image credit: Google Blog

Google’s latest flagship phone, the Pixel 8 Pro, is turning heads with its built-in temperature sensor. While smartphones increasingly serve as Swiss Army knives of technology, this one particular feature raises questions about its practicality and purpose.

An Attempt at Justifying Its Price?

At a starting price of $999, the Pixel 8 Pro has a much heftier price tag compared to its more affordable sibling, the Pixel 8.

The phone’s temperature sensor is the first in Google’s long line of designs. It seems that the Pixel 8 Pro aims to justify its premium status with innovative features like this.

Upon its announcement, Google positioned the temperature sensor as a versatile tool. It’s capable of measuring more than just body temperature. While it awaits approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use, it promises to assist in everyday tasks. These include checking water temperature while cooking or assessing the warmth of your morning coffee before that first sip.

How to Access the Thermometer App on Pixel 8 Pro

To access this feature, users open the new Thermometer app on the Pixel 8 Pro. They select the material they want to measure, ranging from food to various surfaces. They position the sensor within two inches of the object in question. A simple tap on the screen sets the phone up to measure temperature.

Some users on social media affirm that the Pixel 8 Pro can accurately gauge the temperatures of a cup of tea and a glass of water. The tea registered 101.9 degrees Fahrenheit, while the water measured 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Its accuracy remains unverified against traditional thermometers, but the user-friendly app proved responsive.

Though not the first smartphone to feature a temperature sensor, the Pixel 8 Pro’s addition seems less tied to current trends. In contrast, past implementations addressed specific health and wellness needs. Examples include Honor’s Play 4 Pro during the COVID-19 pandemic or Samsung’s Galaxy S4 in the early days of smartwatches.

Also read: Samsung Unboxes Galaxy Z Flip Phone

The Pixel 8 Pro’s temperature sensor introduces an element of unpredictability. Its potential applications extend beyond measuring body temperature. This raises questions about Google’s intentions. Will it serve as a foundation for future medical technologies, or does it hint at a broader strategy?

FDA Approval & Privacy Concerns

The FDA’s involvement adds complexity. Google’s sensor doesn’t require clearance for the phone or the sensor itself. However, it must obtain FDA approval if it intends to measure body temperature. In this context, privacy concerns also come into play. Google opts to store body temperature data in Fitbit, separate from users’ Google accounts, to comply with HIPAA regulations.

Also read: What’s Going on with Online Privacy?

So, what’s the rationale behind this addition? Google remains tight-lipped. It offers no concrete insights into its long-term plans. Experts speculate that FDA-cleared body temperature data could be valuable for illness prediction and cycle tracking. This aligns with the trend of wearable temperature sensors.

However, given the unpredictable nature of FDA clearance, it’s unclear when—or if—the Pixel 8 Pro will become a bona fide medical tool. In the meantime, it’s a high-priced smartphone with a curious party trick—a temperature sensor that hints at a future we’re only beginning to grasp.


Bal M

Bal was BTW's copywriter specialising in tech and productivity tools. He has experience working in startups, mid-size tech companies, and non-profits.

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