Withings debuted a new smart scale at CES Monday that can tell you more about your feet than how much weight you put on them every day.
Called the Body Scan, it can calculate body composition, and even show where there is fat versus muscle concentration, and take a number of cardiovascular measurements, like heart rate and “Vascular Age,” which Withings determines by comparing your cardiovascular metrics to an average of the scores of others your approximate age. It sure seems a lot like a shiny, consumer-friendly medical device that the FDA hasn’t actually cleared yet, though Withings says it is working on that. But the most unexpected metric comes from measuring your… Foot sweat.
Yep, foot sweat! So don’t be ashamed, oh damp toe’ed ones. Apparently, testing the ability of your feet to sweat can contribute to the picture of your overall health.
To paint that picture, electrodes in the scale will send a pulse through your feet to see at what level your feet release chloride ions, which are conductive particles in — among other things — sweat. This is the process of “tracking sweat gland activity in the feet” to “provide a daily assessment of small nerve activity,” which is a test of your “sudomotor function.”
Mashable asked Withings to clarify, and that’s all a fancy way of saying the scale will measure how active your sweat glands are, which indicates how well the nerves that activate those glands are working. Um, why would you want to do that? Because abnormal nerve activity could be an indicator of other things going on in your body.
“A number of health conditions, including diabetes, may affect small nerve density & function,” Withings said. “We don’t detect or track neuropathies or diabetes, however since peripheral neuropathies often affect the small nerves in the feet and lower extremities, in the future we hope to show a good correlation between our metric and these pathologies, notably by performing a clinical study in the US and submitting it to FDA.”
The toes knows!
However, as Withings itself is conducting this research, the proof of concept for measuring foot sweat activity is not super well established.
“It always is nice to have additional data to help measure your efforts towards a healthy lifestyle,” Malek said. “But it’s important to collaborate with your physician on reading the results or if they warrant further assessment. But in the grand scheme of things, detecting possible disorders early on can help achieve earlier intervention so things don’t progress and seriously affect your health and wellbeing.”
One issue, though, is that the nerve activity assessment is connected to a scale. It’s a very fancy scale, sure, but ultimately, it’s a tool that helps you measure your weight and body fat.
Withings’ press materials envision the Body Scan as part of a person’s daily routine of getting on the scale. Personally, this sounds like a horrible routine to me. Measuring your body in pounds has become an
“Sometimes scales and measurements can be anxiety provoking,” Malek said. “However, if you’re someone who likes these tools, and it continues to fuel a healthy effort towards exercise and nutrition for your overall health, it might not hurt to look into it!”
That’s precisely why Withings positions the Body Scan as oh so much more than a scale. Scales and measuring the LBs might be out of vogue. But body composition, heart rate, and, of course, foot sweat?! That’s so now.
If that all sounds good, you can snag the Body Scan for $299 in the second half of 2022, pending FDA approval. But maybe — especially at this time of the year when diet ads and body image pressures abound — don’t sweat the scale.