How has the pandemic changed your relationship with your health? For many of us, it has crystallized the importance of looking after ourselves, pushing us to dig deeper into what’s going on in our bodies, no longer content with waiting until something goes wrong. Thanks to rapid innovations in smart devices and wearable tech, never have we had such intimate knowledge of our health. Withings is at the forefront of this revolution, a company pioneering some of the most technically advanced health trackers on the market—putting our health back in our hands. Their success has even led them to team up with the French government to improve healthcare in the country.
Since Withings was created back in 2008, we’ve seen a drastic change in the medical landscape. What we notice, especially after Covid, is that our relationships with healthcare professionals have changed. We have also seen a growth in personal devices to help patients monitor their own health from home. PR manager Thi Nguyen says, “Our devices are participating to change that landscape. And because the healthcare professional sector is very busy, we see that we are also improving the relationship between the patients and the doctors.”
What does the Body Scan do?
Body Scan is a connected health station. It looks like any black scale but with a handle on the upper part of the scale that you can pull up. There are four electrodes on the handle that take measurements, a six-lead ECG, and segmental body composition. Withings launched the first connected scales back in 2009. But since then, they keep adding new features, allowing users to know what is behind the numbers. Compared to the other scales in the Withings range, it gives more insight and more metrics. For example, it can measure nerve health through the feet. Damage could be a sign of peripheral neuropathy, which is an early sign of type 2 diabetes. Mechanical team leader Manon Navellou says, “Even though you look healthy, sometimes what’s happening in your body needs deeper analysis. This is what Body Scan is allowing.”
What does this mean for the user?
Not only you will understand your weight, muscle mass, fat mass, and water percentage, but you will also be able to detect that for each part of your body. And it’s not only for athletes; it also helps you if you want to have a leg day workout or pinpoint the part of your body that you want to work on. Body Scan is also helping our users assess their cardiovascular health, so we help them to understand pulse wave velocity. It’s the most advanced product in terms of the scale category that we have as of today.
What is U-Scan?
The U-Scan is a 90mm pebble-shaped, glossy white device for urine analysis which was announced in January 2023. It’s the world’s first hands-free connected home urine lab. The device lives within the toilet bowl, and the only thing you must do is pee on it. It took four years for the Withings team to develop. The pebble shape of the device allows the urine to flow around it, enabling a non-invasive way to perform your analysis. There are 3,000 metabolites in urine, so it can tell us a lot about a person’s health and general state. Urine is also a very available liquid which is disposable, but nobody’s using it daily to know what’s happening in their body.
Going with the flow
U-Scan is addressing different first use cases, which differ according to the test pods inside the device. The first one is U-Scan Cycle Sync, which helps women to monitor their menstrual cycle; for instance, with the LH peak, they will know about the window of when they will have the period. But also, it’s important to help them monitor their hydration level and nutritional levels, so those biomarkers are available through the test. The results are shown in the Withings app. U-Scan’s nutribalance cartridge will also enable analysis of specific pH level, vitamin C and ketone levels to help people monitor their metabolic intake to optimize their daily hydration and nutrients. So overall, we are addressing those two first-use cases to help out the general population—not necessarily people who already suffer from a specific disease, but also to help them understand what’s happening in their bodies.
A longer life—for your smartwatch
The Scan Watch is for activity tracking. It helps you to monitor your heart activity. It also allows you to perform a one-lead ECG, and it will tell you about the level of SpO2, especially when you sleep. Unlike other watches on the market, Scan Watch has a 30 day battery life giving 30 days of autonomy, so you don’t need to put your watch on charge during the night. Mechanical team leader Manon Navellou says, “This has been made possible because we have a lot of engineers working here. We design even our sensors internally, and this helps us to be able to miniaturise all our components. Also, we worked on the software to optimize the electrical consumption of every electronic component.”
Wearable devices are not doctors
In the future, Withings wants to help users to understand their health deeper and better, so they are trying to look at ways to monitor new biomarkers. U-Scan is a perfect example, because over time they can develop new cartridges which could be used with the same device, but which will allow monitoring of new biomarkers. It will also help doctors to understand what is happening in the patient’s life without having them come to the office too often. However, said Thi, “We need to be precise that Withings is not replacing any doctors. We are helping them to understand what’s happening in their health, but we’re not giving any diagnosis. This is the doctor’s job. We just want to help this link between the patient and the healthcare professional.”
Onshape: helping Withings to innovate
Withings is a company whose products stand out in the market, and it’s important for them to iterate every day. They design something, prototype it, test it, make modifications, and then they start the loop all over again. To help in this process. They’ve chosen to use PTC’s cloud-based computer-aided design platform Onshape. With Onshape, the Withings engineers no longer have to waste time worrying about data management and PDM, and they can spend more of their time focusing on product design innovation.
Savings of $50,000 a year
Onshape is the only cloud-native CAD and PDM system in the world. Our built-in PDM system automatically tracks every design change over the lifetime of a project. It lets Withings instantly return to prior iterations if needed—any prior state of a model, if needed. Our cloud-native platform combines PDM and CAD for the same cost as just CAD—lower than you typically pay even for just CAD. It saves Withings more than $50,000 each year. The Withings core engineering team in France is able to instantly, in real time, share the latest design changes with engineers and manufacturing partners in Hong Kong, in China, anywhere on Earth.
Onshape: enabling global collaboration
Withings credits two unique Onshape collaboration tools—branching and merging, and multipart studios – in helping them accelerate their design process. Multiple Withings engineers can simultaneously branch off a main design and explore alternative design variations independently, and they later come back and use Onshape’s merge feature to bring the best ideas into the final design, the one they want to release, which they then use PDM to release. Onshape’s branching and merging is unique. It fits right into the Onshape modelling environment, and in Onshape modelling, you’re getting more benefit because it allows engineers to design multiple related parts at the same time, in the same part modelling environment, versus bouncing back and forth between individual part files. This process mimics the way the brain works for creating assemblies.
A loyal Withings customer—right here at PTC
And our multi-part in Onshape, the multipart parts studio approach, really works smoothly with the PDM and Onshape so you can release individual parts. That’s a real problem with old-fashioned file-based systems. And it makes it much, much easier for modern teams in Onshape to use multi-part design. PTC’s Jon Hirschtick says, “I love Withings in particular, because while Withings is an Onshape customer, I’m also a Withings customer. I own a Withings scale, and I think it’s been critical to me and my personal fitness and recent successful weight loss. You must try it to understand what it can do for you personally. It’s a fantastic product—and you can count me as one of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of people around the world that Withings has helped lead a healthier life.”
Thanks to Jon and to Thi and Manon for showing us around Withings’ headquarters.
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This is an 18Sixty production for PTC. Executive producer is Jacqui Cook. Sound design and
editing by Ollie Guillou. Recording by Katy Lee. And music by Rowan Bishop.