Withings is already well-known for its smart scales and ultra-stylish activity trackers. The French health-tech firm is now venturing into the world of medical analysis, developing a device to scan people’s urine.
It is initially intended to support decentralized clinical trials, but the company hopes to eventually offer it as a consumer health-tech device. Welcome to U-Scan.
U-Scan is a pebble-shaped device that, like a deodorizer block, hangs from a plastic tab on the side of your toilet bowl. The 90mm diameter hardware is designed to sit on the porcelain where most people’s pee streams would land.
A collection inlet is located at the lowest point, and a sensor detects the presence of urine and activates a pump that draws a small amount into its body. The sample is then pumped into a microfluidic system, which causes a chemical reaction.
(This microfluidic system is similar to the litmus test-like strips you may have seen a doctor use when testing your pee. These are much smaller, as shown in the image, but the reaction changes the color of the paper, which is then read by the device’s scanner.
This should, for example, be able to draw binary conclusions about the substances in your waste.) A cartridge containing the specific test that you’re looking for will sit beneath the U-Scan itself.
So far, the company has collaborated with two European medical centers to investigate methods of discovering renal lithiasis and bladder cancer. It is hoped that the system will one day be used to mass-screen for cancer markers and to aid in medical research.
In terms of consumer units, the company has created U-Scan Cycle Sync, which is intended for period tracking.
The plan is to conduct detailed, on-going testing to enable fine-grained cycle tracking without the use of calendar apps. The system claims to predict your ovulation window, hydration levels, and nutrient levels, in addition to your menstrual cycle.
U-Scan Nutri Balance, on the other hand, provides a “detailed metabolic guide to hydration and nutrition.” This will examine your water balance, nutrient levels, fat metabolism, and the amount of vitamin C in your pee.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to monitor your ketone levels as well as the pH of your urine, which is useful for determining whether or not you’re eating a healthy enough diet.
When the tests are completed, the results are sent to a server via WiFi or Bluetooth, and the cartridge is reset with a new test pod. According to the company, U-Scan is intelligent enough to distinguish different users, such as different family members in a home, and separate tests accordingly.
Withings has also stated that its system meets the highest security standards and that its data will always be stored in France in a GDPR-compliant environment. According to the manufacturer, U-Scan will last three months before requiring a recharge (via USB-C) and a replacement cartridge.
Pricing and availability are likely to be delayed due to regulatory approvals, regardless of what Withings says. According to the company, U-Scan will be available in Europe for the first time in Q2, 2023, with the Nutri Balance and Cycle Sync cartridges.
A starter kit with one reader and cartridge will cost €499.95 ($530), and replacement cartridges will cost €30 ($31). A US release will occur later, whenever the FDA decides to clear the product for consumer use.