How can smartphones help in the fight against coronavirus? In a few different ways, at least so far. Apple and Google have begun rolling out app infrastructure for contact tracing, while other apps have launched both to help people find testing centers, and to eventually serve as an "immunity passport."
But what about a smartphone that can actually take your temperature? It turns out that's a reality, though you can't get it in the United States.
According to Ars Technica, the Chinese manufacturer Huawei's Honor Play 4 Pro smartphone includes an IR temperature sensor in its rear camera block that's able to "measure the surface temperature of people and objects." The company has posted videos of the functionality to Weibo, the Chinese social network.
"Just aim the phone at someone's forehead, tap through the app, and the phone will give you a temperature reading," the site says of how the video shows the functionality. The temperature check does not substitute for a coronavirus test, but it can test for a fever, which can present as a symptom for the virus.
The Honor Play 4 has a 6.57-inch screen and a 2400×1080 LCD display.
The phone is currently only available in China, as Huawei continues to be a flashpoint in U.S./China relations. The Trump Administration has accused Huawei of spying on behalf of the Chinese government, and last month President Trump extended his executive order banning U.S. companies from doing business with companies deemed a national security risk — including Huawei and ZTE — through May of 2021.
This means not only that such products aren’t sold in the U.S., but that U.S. companies can't supply components to them. Therefore, new Huawei phones, which run Android 10, can’t run Google Play apps and services. The U.S., however, has issued a series of extensions allowing software updates on existing products.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.