“Eighty percent of the people with sleep apnea, don’t know they have sleep apnea,” a Withings representative told Digital Trends when we took a good look at the new Withings ScanWatch at CES 2020. When that many people are afflicted by a condition that has the potential not just to drastically lower the quality of life, but in the worst case scenario increase the likelihood of serious and life-threatening medical conditions, a neat device to help identify problems is very welcome.
Identifying sleep apnea using the Withings is enabled by the new SpO2 sensor on the back of the watch, which measures blood oxygen saturation during sleep. Low blood oxygen is a tell-tale sign of sleep apnea and other cardiorespiratory problems. When it notices irregularities, data is collated and can be sent as a document to your medical professional for further analysis.
While the ScanWatch isn’t going to conclusively give you a diagnosis, it will alert you to the possibility of a problem, and this is very important. Most of the time, people who eventually identify they suffer from sleep apnea understood only after lengthy and invasive overnight visits to clinics. Being able to recognise possible problems before checking with a doctor, using only a device on your wrist, is a big step forward.
Bigger screen, more features
The SpO2 sensor is the main new technical feature which will attract people to the ScanWatch, the latest generation of hybrid smartwatch from the popular Withings brand; but it’s not the only new feature onboard. The small plastic AMOLED (PMOLED) screen has been enlarged slightly over previous models, and has a greater pixel density, to make notifications and information easier to read. It’s very bright, the animations are smooth, and you can read text and data at a glance. The hybrid watch connects to either Android or iOS phones using Withings app, and delivers notifications as well as health and fitness data.1
Withings hasn’t changed the look of the ScanWatch drastically otherwise. This isn’t a bad thing. They have an instantly recognisable design, which falls on the traditional watch style side rather than the smartwatch side, and there are two different sizes to suit different wrists. The larger 42mm version has a thicker bezel and chunkier horns for a more masculine look. The smaller 38mm ScanWatch’s minimalist bezel and pastel colored straps will appeal to everyone. The version which caught our eye had a blue fabric strap, which minimised the visual size of the larger mode, for a great combination. It’s comfortable, light, and attractive when strapped onto your wrist.
What else? The ScanWatch’s other highlight is its ability to monitor irregular heartbeat and atrial fibrillation. It periodically reads your heart rate and prompts you when it notices anything unusual, much like the Apple Watch. When that happens, the ScanWatch also nudges you to calculate your electrocardiogram reading, which involves placing two fingers to the side bezels for 30 seconds. Additionally, the ScanWatch tracks fitness and sleep, provides notifications from your phone, and has a heart rate sensor on the back.
The other advantage of the ScanWatch’s lack of a full touchscreen is the battery life. it will last for about 30 days before it needs a recharge, which is excellent compared to most full featured smartwatches. A second subdial on the face shows both battery life remaining and progress towards your daily step goal.
Price and availability
With its stylish, unobtrusive, suitable-for-all design, and its potentially life-changing new technology, the Withings ScanWatch is one of the most complete health-focused smartwatches you can buy. Those looking for a more fitness-focused wearable will find more value in other models, including the Apple Watch; but anyone with concerns over heart health — whether awake or asleep — should be taking a very close look at the ScanWatch. It will be available in the next few months, and cost $250 for the 38mm model and $300 for the 42mm version.
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