Withings previews sleep device, Bluetooth BP cuff

By Jonah Comstock
03:31 am
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withings aura

Correction: A previous version of this article said the original Withings Blood Pressure Cuff connected via the headphone jack, not the charge cable.

French connected health and wellness device company Withings has announced two new products planned to launch in 2014: a Bluetooth-enabled update of the company's upper arm blood pressure cuff and a two part sleep tracking system.

The sleep system, called Withings Aura, is a different approach than most sleep tracking systems that have hit the market recently, in that it has no wearable component at all. Instead, the system consists of a sensor placed in the user's bed and a bedside device that serves as both lamp and alarm clock. The system is controlled via a smartphone app.

Both components of the sleep system contain sensors. The bed sensor monitors body movements, breathing cycles and heart rate, similar to Beddit's recently crowdfunded device. The bedside device monitors ambient environmental factors like noise, light, and temperature. But the device is also designed to help the user sleep better, not just monitor sleep.

“Sleep is such a vital part of a healthy balance that we challenged ourselves to create a product that could be used not only to analyze and monitor sleep, but also to positively impact the experience," Withings cofounder Cedric Hutchings said in a statement. "By combining environmental sensors, light and sound, we’ve been able to create a product that will give users the data and power to improve a third of their lives.”

The bedside device builds programs of light and sound based on the recorded information, designed to help relax users as they fall asleep and help them wake up more easily in the morning by facilitating the release of the hormone melatonin into the body.

The Withings Aura system is set to launch in the spring with a starting price of $299, the company said.

The blood pressure cuff is similar to the one Withings released in 2011, but adds Bluetooth connectivity and Android support (the previous device connected via the phone's 16-pin connector). When the user presses the button to inflate the cuff on his or her upper arm, the Withings Health Mate app opens automatically, displaying instructions and saving data right on the phone. The cuff runs on four triple A batteries, similar to its predecessor.

The new cuff has a CE Mark and is already on sale in Europe, but it is still awaiting FDA clearance. The company says it will launch the device in the United States later in 2014 with a $129.95 price tag. Withing's current blood pressure cuff sells for $79.95, although when it launched it was $129.95.