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Withings U-Scan hands-on at CES 2023

Withings has already made a name for itself as a maker of smart scales and ultra-stylish activity trackers. Now, the French health-tech company is making a foray into the world of medical analysis, building a device to scan people’s urine. It’s initially intended as a way of supporting decentralized clinical trials, the company hopes to offer it as a consumer health-tech device in the future. Say hello to U-Scan.

Video transcript

DANIEL COOPER: My job is weird.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

One of the most interesting gadgets that has shown up here at CES is Withings U-Scan. Now, this is a urine analyzer from the French health tech company. And it promises to do to urine and urine analysis what it's been doing to smartwatches and weighing scales for the past few years. And we're here at a suite in a Las Vegas hotel. And I'm going to be one of the first people to test it.

Now, U-Scan is a urine analysis device. And inside this clamshell body is a series of microfluidic assays. And how it works is that this hangs a little bit like an air freshener on the front of your toilet. And then when you feel the need to go, you will do your business on the front. The liquid will fall down the front of the lid. And at the bottom here is a little inlet.

When it detects the presence of fluid, the inlet will open and draw in a small sample, which it will then run through one of any number of sort of reaction paper assays. This will then be run in front of an infrared scanner. And then the conclusions that it draws will be sent over via Wi-Fi, I believe, to the Withings Health Mate app, where it will then offer you conclusions about, well, any number of things.

Now, in this example, the company is showing off its Nutri Balance cartridge. Now, this is one of two that it's planning to launch at some point this year, the other one being for menstruation cycle tracking. This one is designed specifically to look at the specific gravity of your urine and also the pH of your urine. And from there, its designers say that it will be able to make certain conclusions or draw certain conclusions about the acidity of your diet, whether you're eating a meat-heavy diet.

Obviously, if it's more sort of pH neutral or alkaline, then you're eating a more vegetable-heavy diet. And then in terms of the specific gravity, it will be able to talk about your hydration levels and whether you're drinking enough water throughout the day. Interestingly enough, it turns out I'm going to be the first person outside of Withings to try it. And interestingly enough, everyone who uses it will need to sit down in order to try it out.

And this will be the case for end users as well. You will need to sit down to pee on the device. Now, you'll have to excuse me. I'm going to go test it. And then in a few minutes, I will have the information emailed to me. And we can have a look at its conclusions. Right, I'll leave this here. And you're not following.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Right, so I've just come back, and I have my results in my hand. One of the things the company did want to make clear, as it is at this point effectively a prototype, and certainly, with regulators watching, it doesn't want to make any claims about its efficacy at this point. And, you know, if you are working for the FDA, then I've been asked to say that this is a theatrical performance and not an actual demonstration of any medical technology that's going on.

And in regards to that, U-Scan will come to Europe first because it will need to go through the FDA sausage machine. And it may not come to the US for anything up to a year. So I'm looking at this for the first time. And it's telling me that the pH of my urine as it stands right now is 6.5. So it's slightly acidic. It then adds that if the diet that you have--

If you're eating too much acidic food or it says, basic, which I assume means if you're not eating a wide enough range of vegetables and fish and all the other things that you really can't get in Las Vegas because, I mean, I've been surviving on potato chips for the last four days, it may cause my body to compensate by producing neutralizing substances. So it might make me less than perfectly healthy as if, you know, that was a risk I was ever at.

And in terms of my water balance, it says that the specific gravity of my urine is 1020. And according to this, I'm sort of in the middle, I think. Yeah, I have optimal water balance. I hope my mother's proud. Now, of course, we can't really draw any proper conclusions because this is just a first test. And fundamentally, it's going to take time before we can review this thing and really put it through its places.

But if you'd like to learn more about this, you can check out a very good story written by me at Engadget.com. And if you'd like to check out all of the other really cool things that have come out at CES 2023, you should also go to Engadget.com. And please don't forget to like and subscribe this video. I mean, I'm not going to say we're going to make more of this type of video. It's not OnlyFans.

But it'll be interesting science and technology and culture news and stuff like that. But please like and subscribe. Even if you hated it, like and subscribe for me. I just peed for you. I just peed in front of, like, four, five-- they were all waiting outside. Please. Please.

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