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Withings Blood Pressure Monitor – A Review from the Heart

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor is designed to operate with your iPod, iPhone or iPad, making the product’s concept totally different to blood pressure monitors as we know them. It’s a new approach to measuring blood pressure and using the data for health benefits.

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor makes the hearts of design and tech lovers beat faster

Getting my blood pressure measured was something that I only ever had done at my routine annual check-up or when donating blood. As blood pressure monitors are usually designed either for doctors’ offices or for best agers, why should a man in his early thirties like myself go for such a device?

Actually, my experience with the Withings WiFi Body Scale, which I reviewed earlier was what got me interested in buying another Withings gadget. Being a tech enthusiast in general, I fell in love with the stunning visualization of my bodyweight and just had to go for the company’s blood pressure monitor as well. Just as with the body scale, from an aesthetic point of view it is a deeply satisfying product. Evidently, it was made especially for self-quantifiers and health-hipsters.

All together it consists of a cuff and an aluminum tube that acts both as a handle as well as the housing for the batteries and the pneumatic pump. The cuff itself consists of white faux leather fitted with a fresh green inside. In order to work, the blood pressure monitoring cuff has to be connected to your iPod, iPhone or iPad. By thus using an external device both as its display as well as its internet connection, the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor is a lean and resource-efficient product that enables measuring and synchronizing on the go.

Measuring your blood pressure becomes a mobile experience

Once you’ve twisted the cuff around your arm and connected it to your i-device via the doc connector, the app is automatically launched. All you have to do is press the start button to run the pneumatic pump and let it squeeze your upper arm for about 30 seconds. After the measurement, your systolic and diastolic blood pressure and your average heart rate during the monitoring period appear on your display. Once you’ve collected several measurements, you can scroll and zoom your way through the details of how your blood pressure has varied over time simply by swiping and pinching the screen. If you are simultaneously tracking your weight with the same app, you can get an overview of some of your most important health factors gathered in one chart.

Sharing options for your blood pressure data

Since this product is a serious health device, users can send their data via email to their doctors or sync them with their favorite personal health records. This helps build a solid basis of personal health information and bears great potential for analyzing personal metrics and their co-influence in the future. The fun factor definitely comes with the option of sharing your data on Facebook or Twitter. Imagine status updates like “I just lost my job due to inappropriate use of social media” followed by “my blood pressure is now 152/114”.

Buy it or leave it?

Looking at the 129 $ price tag may be frustrating at first and will probably not convince the ones who don’t care too much about their blood pressure. Still, I believe that some day soon a solid basis of health data will create a number of benefits for many of us. When considering buying a blood pressure monitor, you should think about such factors as operational convenience and the value of your data. According to the Withings partnership strategy, all your data can easily be made accessible for third party services such as Runkeeper or Fitbit. This can make their products more valuable by being able to create a rich data-set aimed towards more comprehensive health awareness. I hope more of the established and soon to come biosensors will follow Withings positive example!

My Polar heart rate monitor – Why you should have one

Photo: Polar.fi

If you run five to six times a week, go to work by bike and do strength training in between your running days, you don’t want to spend more time than absolutely necessary at the PC writing all the stuff down. At the same time, it is important to see and calculate progress (or plateauing).

I got the RS300 Polar heart rate monitor to keep track of the kilometers I ran and to see my pace while I am running. After the training sessions, you can see your average and max pace, heart-rate and which sport-zones you used (customizable heart-rate zones). It even has a function that can measure your current fitness level (it’s called OwnIndex and is correlated to your VO2max) and another test that determines your current aerobic zone in the first minutes of your particular run! Two really cool features!

When you start running, as I did about three years ago, you’ll be overwhelmed by numbers. Same goes for other (endurance) sports. So, if you are like me, you start tracking what you can measure – the data will useful for motivation, new training plans, calculating your training load and much more.

At first you want to know how much time you spend on the track. Then you will start measuring your track length and calculating your pace. Soon enough, you buy a heart rate monitor to ensure the right training load and you begin training pulse oriented.

Running in the woods
He wears Polar

If its not enough to write that all down, maybe you want to see an average displayed by week/month/year in fancy, colored graphs, ready to share online with your training partners. Your personal Nyan Cat of data, there you go, the RS300 helps you do just that. Go to the website polar offers you to keep track of your personal goals, trainings plans and much more. Sure, I hear from time to time that people “feel” how much load they take, they “sometimes run fast, other times slower and it works well”.

Yes, it is much better than watching TV. Now consider the following: maybe you want to go faster and farther and run more relaxed all at the same time, get the lost calories counted and do it in perfect alignment with your body – then, of course, get yourself a heart-rate watch. Even with half-hearted endurance ambitions, monitor your heart. (And get a training plan of course, or let the Polar software design one for you based on your fitness test – well done Polar, well done).

Do you already own a heart-rate monitor? Have different ways to stay in touch with your training load? Share your knowledge, write a comment.