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U.K. Startup Sees Pregnant Opportunity

A company named Cambridge Temperature Concepts has developed an RFID-based system to help women predict their ovulation cycles.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jul 15, 2009Cambridge Temperature Concepts (CTC), a U.K. firm launched by a group of recent University of Cambridge graduates, has developed an RFID-based system designed to help women who are trying to get pregnant to better track and predict their ovulation cycles. The company began selling the product, called DuoFertility, last month in Europe, and hopes to begin selling it in North American in early 2010.

Ovulation causes an increase of one-half to one degree Fahrenheit in body temperature—a change that conventional glass thermometers are unable to detect. Women trying to become pregnant, therefore, have long employed specialized thermometers to track minute changes in body temperature. In order to determine ovulation, however, women must be very consistent in taking these readings on a daily basis, and they must do so as soon as they awaken in the morning.

The DuoFertility kit contains an RFID interrogator, a temperature-sensing module, a USB cord, a user's manual and adhesive pads.
DuoFertility is designed to make this process simpler and more accurate, explains Shamus Husheer, CTC's CEO. The system consists of two primary parts: a small, circular waterproof module containing a basal temperature sensor and a passive 125 kHz RFID inlay, and a handheld device that contains an RFID interrogator, a USB port and indicators enabling a woman to enter additional data she might be tracking, including ovulation pain or the results of other fertility-tracking tests she might be running in tandem, such as hormone levels in her urine.

Attached to the skin just below either armpit, the module logs many thousands of temperature readings throughout the day and stores them in its 2 megabytes of memory. An adhesive pad—included with the DuoFertility kit—will hold the module in place for up to 28 days. However, the user can remove the module at any time. She may, for instance, elect to remove it before heading out of the house while wearing attire that does not conceal the module—which measures 3.5 centimeters (1.4 inches) in diameter and 7 millimeters (0.28 inch) in thickness—and then, upon returning, use a new adhesive pad to reattach.

When the woman wants to download the temperature data, she holds the handheld reader up to the module (the RF transmission will penetrate layers of clothing). Once the temperature and any additional data she inputs into the interrogator is collected, the handheld device will indicate her fertility level on that day, along with predicted levels over the following five days, based on the indicator's color for each particular day (the darker the green light, the higher the fertility level).

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