Withings and “Connected Health” Devices

By Deane Barker on June 5, 2012

withingsFor Christmas last year, my wife bought me a Withings Wi-fi Body Scale.  This is a scale that sits in my bathroom and talks to my wi-fi network.  Whenever I weigh myself, it transmits my weight to Withings website, where I can log on and see a chart of my weight over time.

(It also tries to measure bodyfat percentage using the bioelectrical impedance method, but the jury is way out on how accurate that actually is, and I can testify that the number is all over the place from day-to-day.)

What’s neat about the scale is that I can allow other services to “subscribe” to my body weight.  For instance, I use Runkeeper to track my runs, and whenever I run, it contacts Withings to get my most recent body weight (always taken that morning), and uses it to calculate my calories burned (inaccurate as that calculation generally is).  If you want hack, their API is open.

I feel like there’s a market here just waiting to be exploited. I could imagine all sorts of connected devices for measuring health telemetry.  As someone who had Type II Diabetes (and cured myself of it through diet and exercise, I’m eager to add), a wi-fi blood sugar testing device would be awesome.

I think there’s some larger principle at here about how human beings like to put isolated data points into a larger context, like pieces in a puzzle.  I used to weigh myself all the time, but I can say that it seems more…serious (?) now that it’s being tracked.  Like each weigh-in is a small chapter in a larger story.  The mere fact that I’m slowly forming a history, from weigh-in to weigh-in, imparts more gravity to it.

This scale is only one of the things that Withings makes – they have a couple of other “Connected Health” devices: a blood pressure cuff and a baby monitor.

Also of interest is their blog, which has posts about the intersection between health and technology.