Withings, a company known for its smart health-focused consumer technology, has announced the U-Scan, a small device that attaches to a toilet and collects urine for home testing. Withings claims that analyzing urine can give a quick overview of the body’s overall well-being and can help diagnose and monitor certain diseases like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections.
The U-Scan is a pebble-shaped device that consists of a changeable analysis cartridge designed to assess specific biomarkers. The device features a thermal sensor that can differentiate between urine and toilet water, and also has low-energy radars that can identify the person urinating. Once the reader detects a user urinating, the U-Scan device automatically collects a small amount of urine and directs it into the analysis cartridge, quickly beginning the chemical analysis process. Results are then transmitted automatically in a readable format via Wi-Fi to the Withings app. The Withings app provides an analysis of specific gravity, pH, vitamin C, and ketone levels. By analyzing this combination of measurements, people can monitor their metabolic intake and optimize their daily hydration and nutrients. The system also offers recommendations for workouts and dietary suggestions and recipes, to aid health-conscious users in reaching their goals.
The product will be available for purchase at €499.95 in Europe and come with two different health cartridges. Cycle Sync is a cartridge that measures the luteinizing hormone (LH), pH levels, and hydration levels. Tracking LH levels can help determine the stage of the menstrual cycle a person is in, and also predict the window of ovulation. The Nutri Balance cartridge, in addition to measuring pH and hydration, also measures ketones and Vitamin C levels in urine. Each cartridge lasts for three months, and users can purchase additional cartridges as needed or opt for an automatic refill subscription.
The availability of the U-Scan device in the US is still being determined and will depend on clearance from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). One of the main concerns with the U-Scan device is the potential issues related to data privacy. Withings collects sensitive patient information such as changes in hormonal levels, and with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade i.e the right to abortion in some states, this data could potentially be used as evidence in a criminal case. Withings has said that it keeps the data indefinitely, and does not share it with third parties, however, if required by law authorities, would “comply with all legal requirements in the territories in which it operates.” This raises significant data privacy concerns for Withings’ new health-tracking device in the US.