Withings is best known for its hybrid watches, combining basic smartwatch functionality with a good-looking conventional dial. but for the last year they’ve been pushing hard into more advanced medical tracking. The ScanWatch, announced at CES, pushes this agenda even further.
The ScanWatch looks a lot like the company’s older watch design, the Steel HR. The new functionality comes from its advanced ECG heart sensor, and Withings says it can detect the early warning signs of arrhythmia (a precursor to heart attacks and other serious heart problems) and sleep apnea via its sleep tracking. Sleep apnea, a common medical condition in which sleepers stop breathing for short periods, otherwise requires an expensive, time-consuming trip to a sleep clinic in order to detect. The watch uses a combination of factors to detect the early warning signs, including Sp02 percentages and some big data-crunching. Withings is quick to point out that this isn’t a full medical diagnosis for either condition, but that its data can be handed directly to a doctor for further action.
Withings says that the arrhythmia and apnea detection capabilities of the ScanWatch are pending approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission. It’s worth noting that FitBit tried to include a sleep apnea detection feature with the Charge 3 launch in 2018, and has so far not delivered—the FDA approval process is long and complex. That Withings is announcing these features at all indicates confidence, but it’s possible that the ScanWatch will launch without them.
The watch itself looks slick and feels nice, like a mid-range timepiece that just happens to have a tiny OLED screen on it. That said, the price range is a lot to ask for with its limited functionality versus the Apple Watch and other wearables currently on the market. Still, someone looking for a hybrid watch on its aesthetic appeal is probably willing to pay a bit of a premium to get it.
The watch uses a steel case, sapphire crystal, and features a 30-day battery life, much like the Steel HR model (and in fact might be using most of the same parts). Naturally, it integrates with Withings’ other hardware and health tracking app system. It will come in 38mm and 42mm size options, costing $250 and $300 respectively, launching in the second quarter of 2020.