I was fine with my dumb digital scale. It was cheap but highly rated and got the job done, flashing my weight at me once a day. It wasn’t Bluetooth or app-connected and didn’t track anything but pounds, but that was OK. What more could you want? Then I started using a super smart Wi-Fi scale, the Withings WS–50 Smart Body Analyzer, and fell in love. Yes, in love. With a scale. It’s as stylish as a scale can possibly be, all glossy and black, and gave me more data than I knew what to do with—not just weight, but body fat percentage, heart rate, the weather forecast, and a rating of the air quality inside my house. If you think that sounds like overkill for a scale, wait until you see what Withings is doing now.
The French tech company, recently acquired by Nokia, just launched the Body Cardio scale, which bypasses the Smart Body Analyzer’s functionality and goes straight to 100. Using this thing is like going to a doctor every morning, and I’m not sure I like it.
Piece of your heart
Here goes nothing. Credit: Caitlin McGarry
First thing’s first: The $150 WS–50, introduced in 2013, is being phased out. Withings will no longer sell my favorite scale, introducing in its place two new devices: the $180 Body Cardio and the $130 Body. So what did Withings put in the Body Cardio to justify its price tag? Pulse wave velocity.
When I first heard of pulse wave velocity, I, like you, thought: What is this and why do I want it? Pulse wave velocity is a measurement usually only found in medical-grade devices and is used on people at risk for heart disease. It measures how stiff your arteries are, which indicates that your blood pressure is high and can lead to myriad health problems. The scale measures pulse wave velocity by detecting how long a heartbeat-generated vibration takes to travel from your aorta to your foot. (Obviously, you’ll want to weigh yourself sans shoes.)
My pulse wave velocity measurements are good! Now what?
After you unbox the scale and turn it on using a small button on the righthand side, pair it with the Withings Health Mate app and connect it to your home Wi-Fi network. This is quick and easy. Then you have to calibrate the scale with five weigh-ins to see your pulse wave velocity measurement. You won’t see that measurement on the scale’s display, but the Health Mate app will chart it for you. The app will also tell you if your pulse wave velocity is normal for your age or whether you’re at risk for heart disease. Like your other metrics, like weight and heart rate, the Health Mate app will chart that data so you can view trends over time.
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