Weighty solution

April 26, 2011

There are many services and applications that facilitate the process of monitoring body weight. Most of them rely heavily on manual data entry. The data is then analysed and the results are tabulated in the form of tables or graphs.

However, the process of entering data manually sometimes seems cumbersome and users may end up abandoning the service altogether. Registering for a similar service and then measuring your weight every day may seem a simple task at first. But it is difficult and time consuming when you repeat the process, which consists of measuring your weight and then noting it down in order to feed in the data online.

Many people may have lacked commitment to continue with this process, which prompted someone to finally invent a magical tool that employs every day technology to perform the task, easier than anyone can imagine. The tool is simply a weighing scale connected to the Internet. Instead of noting down the weight yourself and updating it on the website, the Withings scale does so automatically.

The device measures not only body weight but also lean mass and body fat. Therefore, no further manual complex calculations are required.

Of course you must initialise the device the first time you use it by connecting the scale to a computer through the USB link in order to download the latest updates. Then link the scale to a Wi-Fi network and give it  permission if the network is password protected.

The last step is to access Withings' website (http://withings.com) and register as a main user in order to enter personal information like your name and current weight.

After this, the moment you stand on the Withings scale, it will start measuring your weight and displaying it on the LED screen, in addition to the body mass index and body fat. In the background, the device is actually sending a copy of the data to the server under your account via the Internet.

It is worth emphasising that the device should not be connected to your PC always, or after each measurement. This is needed only during first time configuration. Then everything should be online and working through the Wi-Fi that you have configured.

By opening the website at any time, you will find all existing data about your weight, even if you took the measurement just moments ago. What distinguishes Withings is not the presence of the information but the presentation. Instead of plain numbers and tables, you will find the information in the form of graphs, and will be able to access them at a glance.

The information is stored by the date on which you took the measurement as a line graph, with the possibility of adding more details such as the amount of body fat or the amount of water in the body.

And the quick tips that appear after you log into your account are just another useful addition. But the good thing is that you can even post your weight every time you use the scale on the social networking website Twitter. If you achieve your goal of reaching a certain weight, you can share it with your friends and family, which gives you more motivation.

You also have the option of sharing your data with other Withings users or on a number of services such as Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault. More than one person can use the scale, which automatically identifies the user and sends the data to the appropriate account.

And to complete the experiment, and because we live in the era of mobility, Withings is also available on most smartphones such as the iPhone as a stand-alone application, but only on the iPad among the tablets.

The only downside of Withings may be its higher price, as compared to a normal weighing scale or even a digital one. But it would not be a fair comparison, because what it offers is a complete solution, not just a scale.