During the November NY QS Show&Tell (#3), many of us were excited to learn about the wi-fi body scale by Withings when Bethany Soule showed us how she had integrated her own Withings scale using their API into her project Kibotzer.com, a tool that helps people track their progress toward all sorts of goals.
This is Good Design
I have never owned a body scale and instead have relied on ones at my local gym or doctor’s office. Because I know how much weight can fluctuate daily, I never saw a reason to invest in something that I could access every week or so elsewhere. But the thought of having my own wi-fi enabled scale that could upload my weight online was appealing. So, in late November, my own Withings scale arrived in the mail. A well-designed product pays as much attention to packaging design and set up instructions as they do their own product (I’m thinking of Apple here), well Withings delivered!
I put the batteries in the scale, set up my account, and entered my wi-fi network password. Then all I had to do was stand on the scale barefoot to wake it up as it immediately measured and displayed my weight, body fat and BMI in that order. After the weigh-in, the scale sent the measurement to my personal Withings account online. It was that simple.
Fatty Tissue Is Not a Conductor
After about 3 weeks, the scale skipped the body fat measurement but there was no indication as to why. I’m not that invested in the fat mass measurement as I’ve always heard that measuring body fat can vary widely in bioelectric impedance, the method Withings relies on and others like it (Tanita, for example). But since the device is connected to my online account, I would like to see a smarter engine behind the Withings scale where it sends personalized messages to me based on what’s been happening. Something like, “Hey, we’ve noticed that the fat mass isn’t recording. We’d like to suggest a few things you can do to try and fix this. They are…” Next generation product fixes, perhaps?
The Sweet Taste of Integration
Withings shines when it comes to sharing my data. I can publish my weight on the web , on Twitter (130 tweets in the last 24 hours by others using the Withings scale), and on Google Health. Since I have a Google Health account and a Keas account, my Withings weight showed up in my Keas profile. I did nothing but stand on a scale. We’re moving toward true integration! Now if I can just get my Keas account to talk to my scale, refrigerator and cupboard.
Does Everything Really Need an App?
Because I can and because it’s free, I downloaded the Withings iPhone app, WiScale. Here’s what I immediately noticed: interacting with a graph on the iPhone is an enjoyable and tactile experience. Withings does a really good job with their interface design, on the app and on the Web. We need more simple, intuitive and elegant feedback mechanisms like this when it comes to tracking personal data.
Thank you Withings for bringing sexy back to the experience of weight tracking. Looking forward to seeing the next “connected object and associated network platform” that comes out of Withings.