Withings adds activity tracker, air quality sensor

By Jonah Comstock
08:51 am

Withings Smart Activity TrackerA flurry of new activity trackers has been announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, with a number of companies rounding out their product lines. Withings is no exception: the "smart" health device company that began offering a wireless weight scale in 2009 and a wireless blood-pressure monitor in 2011 is finally getting into the activity tracker scene, with the Withings Smart Activity Tracker. Longtime activity tracking device maker Fitbit made a similar, but opposite move at last year's CES, introducing its Aria WiFi Smart Scale.

As well as offering the features consumers have come to expect in an activity tracker, including Bluetooth syncing with Apple and Android devices, the Withings device has a built in heart rate sensor - something that's far from standard on activity trackers. Currently heart rate tracking is available on the Basis Band and BodyMedia's FIT armband, although Withing's device doesn't monitor heart rate continuously like those devices do. Instead, a user places a finger on the back of the device to take a heart rate reading before and after workouts. Withings says the device also measures duration and quality of sleep.

The device weighs 8 grams and has a similar form factor to the Fitbit One. Despite being only the size of a USB drive, the tracker has a touch screen, from which users can toggle the display among steps taken, strides run, distance covered, stairs climbed and calories burned. It can be carried in a pocket, but also comes with an arm band and belt clip. It includes a micro-USB port for charging the battery, which the company says will last two weeks.

In addition to its new foray into the popular, if crowded, tracker space, Withings also announced a new version of its core, flagship product: A new connected weight scale, called the Withings Body Analyzer, that also measures heart rate and, somewhat surprisingly, air quality.

"We've challenged ourselves to once again reinvent the smart scale, a segment we pioneered three years ago with our WiFi body scale," CEO Cedric Hutchings said in a statement. "We have added functionalities that have never been seen before on a home scale."

The company claims that CO2 can build up in confined spaces like bedrooms, leading to poor air quality that can negatively affect health, so having access to air quality readings can be part of an overall health strategy.

Both devices, slated for release in the first quarter of 2013, will connect to a smartphone app, the Withings Health Mate app, a free app already available in the iOS AppStore and the Google Play store. In conjunction with a smartphone, the system can track and record activity, weight, and heart rate data, and the user can also set up alarms, sent to their smartphone, to remind them to move if they become too sedentary.

The Body Analyzer, which also won a CES 2013 Innovations Award, will sell for $149.95. Withings hasn't yet announced a price for the activity tracker, though most competitive devices hover around the $100 range.

With an activity tracker, weight scale, and blood pressure monitor, all Bluetooth-enabled and compatible with both Apple and Android, Withings is positioning itself as a comprehensive self-monitoring vendor. With analysts predicting continued growth for the tracker space through 2017, this doesn't seem like a bad place to be.


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