You know you get extreme paranoia when you drop your favorite device in the toilet? Withings wants you to forget all that with its latest health tracker, the U-Scan, which is not only specially designed for use in the toilet bowl, but also for peeing. Stay with us; it’s not as bad as it sounds.
There’s only so much health information that can be gathered from strapping a smartwatch to your wrist, strapping a pulse oximeter to your finger, or wrapping an inflatable blood pressure cuff around your arm. This is why doctors often order a blood draw or require patients to urinate into a cup for detailed urinalysis in a laboratory before making a diagnosis.
Urine tests that can be done at home are not a new idea, but the information they provide is often limited. Pharmacies sell strips that can be used to test for urinary tract infections, while urine tests remain the cheapest and easiest way to confirm pregnancy without a doctor’s visit. Withings U-Scan expands the health information that can be obtained from urine without sending it to a lab, while making the collection process completely hands-free.
The hardware resembles Google’s Chromecast dongle, but instead of plugging into the TV’s HDMI port, you hang it in front of the toilet bowl, where you then deliberately urinate on it. The U-Scan’s smooth, pebble-like design draws urine along its surface down into a collection inlet at the bottom, where a temperature sensor detects the presence of fluid and activates a pump that draws the sample in and through the “microfluidic circuit.” .” While the user urinates, a “low-energy radar sensor built into the device” can also recognize and differentiate between multiple users by detecting their “unique urine stream signature” through a feature Withings calls Stream ID.
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Inside the U-Scan is a replaceable cartridge with a lifespan of about three months, filled with dozens of test capsules into which urine is injected. When one or more biomarkers are detected, chemical reactions occur that produce specific colors that are analyzed by an optical sensor. After the test is complete, the remaining fluids are pumped out of the U-Scan and back into the toilet. The device itself cleans with every flush, though you might want to reach for a pair of gloves when changing cartridges or charging, which you’ll need to do every three months.
U-Scan test results are shared over wifi on Withings’ private servers and made available through the company’s companion mobile apps, allowing each user’s results and personal health data to be tracked over time. There’s no timeline for when the U-Scan will be available in the United States — Withings is still developing it for the U.S. market and will need FDA approval first — but the starter kit will go on sale in Europe next year for €499.95 (about $530 ) and will include one of two different three-month cartridges with the option to purchase additional ones via subscription or stand-alone.
The U-Scan Nutri Balance tray and app will provide the user with information on pH, vitamin C, carbohydrate balance and ketone levels to help “monitor their metabolic intake to optimize their daily hydration and nutrients” and recommend “exercise, diet suggestions and recipes to achieving set goals.”
Instead, the U-Scan Nutri Balance tray and app is designed specifically for “cycle tracking, coaching and journaling” and provides information on “cycle and ovulation window predictions based on hormone detection, along with key hydration and diet biomarkers.” The user can also document other symptoms that the U-Scan cannot detect, including menstrual bleeding, mood, food and water intake, and cervical fluids. Together, we hope that U-Scan and journaling will provide more accurate predictions and insight into the user cycle than applications that rely solely on journaling and custom data collection.
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