Imagine getting health data by performing a bodily function you perform multiple times a day: urinating. You’ll soon be able to do just that: with the U-Scan, a sensor that attaches to the toilet bowl and analyzes your urine every day you use it. Withings unveiled the censor this week during CES 2023, the world’s largest consumer technology trade show.
Anyone who’s ever been offered a urine sample in a doctor’s office knows that urine can tell us important things about our health: whether we’re dehydrated, whether we’re pregnant, whether we have an infection, or even the health of some of our organs. Withings is focusing on some of these biomarkers with two different versions of its consumer device, available in Europe in the first half of 2023, with plans for US availability following approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.
A cartridge made for the U-Scan is meant to monitor nutritional and metabolic information by measuring ketone and vitamin C levels and testing urine pH (low or high pH can be associated with kidney health and more).
The second is made for people who want to better monitor their menstrual cycles by measuring the surges of LH, or luteinizing hormone. LH peaks when ovulation is just around the corner and fertility is likely to be highest. This cycle cartridge will also measure urine pH.
Home urine test strips are already available to track things like LH surges and ketone levels. And even urine tests like Vivoo’s pair with an app to give people more insight into their health and education about what the measurements may mean. But these are more practical than the hit-and-go sensors developed by Withings.
“You don’t think about it and just do what you do every day,” Withings CEO Mathieu Letombe told CNET.
To use it, Withings says the device works best if you attach it to the front of the toilet (meaning people who normally pee standing up might also have to sit down, or at least get creative). Urine will flow to a small collection inlet, which the company says can distinguish between urine and external liquid, such as toilet water. A thermal sensor detects the presence of urine and it is moved into a test capsule. At the end of the analysis, the waste is released from the device and disappears with a flush.
The results will be routed to your phone via Wi-Fi, and you can read your health insights daily on the Withings Health Mate app.
The device contains a cartridge filled with test strips that will last you about three months. Oh, and the sensor will be able to distinguish your “flow” from that of visitors, because the U-Scan is able to differentiate based on the “distance and speed of the flow,” Letombe said.
Since it has not yet been approved by the FDA in the United States, there is currently no price tag for the U-Scan. You’ll be able to get U-Scan Nutri Balance or Cycle Sync cartridges – or both if you want to get even more data – in Europe for 500 euros (about $527 at the moment) later this year. Withings is confident the first two consumer sensors are just the beginning: The company hopes for more medical devices in the future, adding to the long list of smartwatches, wearable sensors and other devices funneling our health into data points.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.