Facebook was the first time most of us experienced how great a social network can be. It was the Web site that connected everyone. Now there are popular Web sites that cater to connecting narrower groups such as job seekers (LinkedIn) or those who are looking for romance (OkCupid) or restaurant reviews (Yelp).

Every year. new services enter the mainstream and better connect niche communities that would benefit from sharing, such as parents who want to keep their kids healthy. That’s where the Kinsa Smart Thermometer comes in.

It’s an oral thermometer that plugs into a smartphone and powers a free app that shares health information. Kinsa aims to better track and stop illnesses by creating a real-time map of human health.  The app tracks a person’s temperature and symptoms. Kinsa then crunches the data of all its users to inform them of what illnesses are spreading where.

Timing is crucial in alerting the public of health risks. Because the Kinsa Smart Thermometer is used in the home, before people have even seen their physician, it’s a faster way to spread word of a flu outbreak.

Hypothetically, let’s say every family in a third-grade class uses the Kinsa Smart Thermometer. Any parent in the class could pull up the app and see how many students are sick, and with what. If a physician asks a parent when a child’s symptoms began, the parent can check the app and share the data.

Kinsa is doing a soft launch of the thermometer in December and will begin selling it widely in the United States next year for about $14.99. The device doesn’t require batteries as there is no processor or screen. The company is also having conversations with two children’s hospitals to distribute the device for free.

Kinsa CEO Inder Singh knows privacy is a concern for users, so sharing features require users to opt in. While users can see what illnesses are common in their school, neighborhood or city, they will not be able to view the temperature or symptoms of individual users.

“Our trust of users is paramount, so we want to create the opportunity get the information you need without revealing your specific situation,” Singh said.