Soon enough, Withings may enable you to do your own urinalysis at home with the U-Scan sitting in your toilet bowl. The data it reads from the test can give you some insight into various health metrics. Why go to the doctor for a urine test once a year when you can do it as often as you need to?
Don’t go rushing out looking for it just yet, though. The U-Scan first needs to gain FDA approval in the United States and Health Canada in the Great White North before it can sell to consumers. But if what Withings says is indeed as clear and concise as it seems, then this is one of the more intriguing devices to come out of CES this year.
And it is a real thing at CES 2023. It’s set to launch in Europe in 2023 with two consumer health cartridges called U-Scan Cycle Sync for women’s monthly cycle tracking and U-Scan Nutri Balance to track metabolic hydration and nutrition. A more professional version for doctors will also come later.
What the Withings U-Scan does
The U-Scan is a pebble-shaped device that collects urine as you pee into the toilet and scans it to assess various health metrics. The reason why Withings chose urine is because it contains a variety of biomarkers, including 3,000 metabolites, that can deliver a snapshot of one’s health. Given that most only do urine tests through a family doctor and a laboratory maybe once a year, doing it on a regular basis at home would be far more convenient.
This device is smart enough to know the difference between urine and other liquids, It even knows how to differentiate your urine and those of your family members. The key is to hit the device with your stream where it collects the urine, analyzes it, then dispenses it through a tiny hole near the bottom. Withings says the whole process only takes about 90 seconds.
The pebble design uses gravity to its advantage in drawing the urine in, so as long as you pee anywhere on it or around it, everything should be fine. Once collected, it goes into a test pod that mixes with a chemical reaction. An optical module takes all the measurements, and when that’s done, the circuit goes back to its original position, while the remaining liquid drains out. Then when you flush, the system gets a thorough cleaning.
And yes, gentlemen, this does mean you will have to do your business sitting down. For best results, the U-Scan needs a steady stream to gather enough of your urine to do a proper reading.
What the U-Scan can find out
Inside the device is a cartridge, and the data you see will depend on that cartridge. So far, there are only the two I mentioned earlier (Cycle Sync and Nutri Balance), and each one lasts for either 100 readings or three months. If you don’t do a urine test every day, it can last longer, but Withings advises daily usage to stay on top of any health changes that may occur. The company envisions a subscription model where it will send replacement cartridges as the current ones reach their end of life.
The U-Scan pairs with the Withings Health Mate app on your phone to display the data and offer some guidance based on the results. For instance, Cycle Sync will present cycle tracking, coaching and journaling. It can provide cycle predictions and an ovulation window with hormonal detection. It also covers hydration, pH levels, and other aspects relevant to each cycle.
The Nutri Balance will analyze for specific gravity, pH, Vitamin C and ketone levels. These metabolic details should give you insight into how hydrated you are and whether you’re getting all the right nutrients. Are you eating too many carbs or acidic foods and drinks? The data will tell you. Hence, it recommends dietary changes with healthier recipes tailored for you, as well as workouts if your lifestyle has become too sedentary.
Withings says it is actively looking to develop more cartridges to cover other health metrics, but didn’t disclose what they might be. Nor do we know what the medical one for doctors might do that’s different.
The U-Scan will come out in Europe first, as it has approval by health regulators in the European Union. It still has to pass pending Health Canada’s approval to be distributed and sold in Canada, and I’m told Withings will attempt to do so. The FDA in the U.S. will come first whenever it may get approval south of the border.
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