Withings, a brand famous for its smart scales and hybrid wearables, just announced something rather exciting at CES 2023: the U-Scan. This pebble-shaped device sits in your toilet bowl and automatically collects health data (i.e. pee) and recommends ways to improve your health via the Health Mate app. U-Scan has already been recognised by the Consumer Technology Association as a CES 2023 Innovation Award honoree in three categories (Smart Home, Fitness & Sports, and Digital Health).
U-Scan consists of a pebble-shaped reader and changeable analysis cartridges "designed to assess specific biomarkers without the need for external sample capture or strips", Withings explains. There will be two cartridges available at launch: U-Scan CycleSync for women's monthly cycle tracking and syncing and U-Scan Nutri Balance, a detailed metabolic guide to hydration and nutrition.
Withings U-Scan: How does it work?
As expected, the rechargeable U-Scan is quite a sophisticated device, and it's engineered to distinguish between external liquid and urine and automatically funnel samples for analysis. Urine flows to a collection inlet, where a pump is activated when a thermal sensor detects the presence of urine, which starts a sample's fluidic journey within a microfluidic circuit.
After its collection, the urine sample is injected into a test pod where an optical module reads the chemical reaction. At the end of each measurement, the circuit returns to the idle position, and the remaining liquid is purged through a waste outlet. The system is subsequently cleaned with every flush.
U-Scan can distinguish between various users thanks to its Stream ID feature. Low-energy radar sensors embedded within the reader measure multiple variables to identify an individual's urine stream signature by detecting the movement and distance of the stream (Stream ID information can be affirmed in the app).
The rotating cylindrical U-Scan cartridge is a chemical assessment chamber containing dozens of miniaturised test pods. When the reader delivers the sample to the injection point, U-Scan begins the chemical analysis almost instantly. It automatically transmits results via Wi-Fi and then rotates the cartridge to expose the next test pod to the injection point. Each cartridge is designed to support up to three months of readings by following the recommended measurement plan (whatever that means).
The accompanying Withings app provides results, actionable insights, and guidance designed to help people build habits for enhanced wellness. The U-Scan Cycle Sync results will appear in the Withings app, which becomes a central place for cycle tracking, coaching, and journaling. It will show cycle predictions and ovulation windows based on hormonal detection alongside key hydration and dietary biomarkers, specific gravity and pH levels to help women manage every aspect of their cycle.
The U-Scan Nutri Balance app analyses specific gravity, pH, vitamin C and ketone levels. It helps people monitor their metabolic intake to optimise their daily hydration and nutrients. As well as displaying results such as carb balance and pH levels, it recommends workouts, dietary suggestions, and recipes to achieve identified goals.
Withings U-Scan: Availability
The Withings U-Scan will first be available in Europe from Q2 2023 with consumer cartridges Nutri Balance and CycleSync. Users can buy a U-Scan starter kit for €500 (approx. £440/$530/AU$783), which includes one U-Scan reader and one cartridge providing three months of testing. They will be able to subscribe to an automatic refill or buy a standalone cartridge at Withings. Future medical cartridges of U-Scan will be available pending regulatory approvals in Europe. U-Scan is not for sale in the United States but is in development and plans to be available in the future following FDA clearance.