Lists of numbers are hard to remember and boring like a 36 volt drill. So Withings takes dull health-related numbers and transforms them into useful data visualizations. Its new blood pressure monitor makes tracking your daily measurements easy and interesting.
Blood pressure's an important metric to monitor, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or hypertension. Most at-home blood pressure monitoring systems come in one of two flavors: The old-fashioned manual kind, or electronic sensors that tend to be easier to use and read, but which often don't store readings long-term. Withings is transformative in this respect. It ports data to any iOS device and it graphs your blood pressure over time, allowing' you to export your data to your doctor, a database and—curiously—your social networks.
You wrap the cuff around your arm, lining up the reader along your bicep. Jack in the cable and the Withings app launches automatically. Press a big, green on-screen button helpfully labeled Start, and the cuff automatically inflates and deflates, reading your systolic and diastolic pressure along the way, and displaying your heart rate. After the reading, a Done button appears onscreen. Touch it and you can view your history.
The two step (two!) instructions that come with the device couldn't be any more clear:
1. Unlock your iPhone iPad iPod Touch.
2. Plug your Withings Blood Pressure Monitor.
Sharing is super easy as well: It emails a list of your readings to your doctor, or automatically sends your data to databases on Google Health, Microsoft Health Vault, and TrainingPeaks, among others. Or you can share your daily readings on Facebook or Twitter, if you have desire to shed friends and followers.
But the real stand out? Graphing. Applying your blood pressure numbers to a graph, rather than a list, makes it really easy to see trends. I can also tell at a glance if my blood pressure is higher in the mornings or evenings. In knowing these things, it's far easier to do something about them.
Our main beef with this is that it doesn't explicitly let you know that you have a high reading. Color codes are meant to indicate the level, but I found these pretty easy to miss. (It would also be nice to have at least some user-defined levels.) This is also a pretty expensive system. And we'd love it even more if it was wireless—the Withings scale uses Wi-Fi to broadcast your results to an iOS app or its website, so it'd be apple pie and brandy if the blood pressure monitor did the same.
Are you 25, an avid exercise enthusiast, with no family history of heart disease, who eats healthfully and lives a low-stress existence? This is not the device for you. Go spend your $129 on bacon cheeseburgers, you have earned them.
But if you've been told to monitor your blood pressure, have a family history of hypertension, or are just a quantified-self type into life tracking this is a pretty amazing device.