Withings always shows up to CES with a futuristic health tech item in tow, and this year is no different. The company’s latest gadget is the $249.95 BeamO, a so-called multiscope that measures your temperature, takes electrocardiograms, reads blood oxygen levels, and works as a stethoscope to track heart and lung health.
The device itself resembles some of Withings’ other contactless thermometers, but it includes photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors, electrodes, a digital stethoscope, and a second-gen version of the infrared temperature sensor in the Withings Thermo. You’re probably more familiar with PPG sensors as the green LED you find in most smartwatches that measures heart rate by shining light into the skin. The sides of the BeamO also have electrodes to allow EKG readings for atrial fibrillation detection.
But more interesting is how Withings has managed to stick a stethoscope into the mix. It does this by including a piezoelectric disc. The gist is the disc catches acoustic noise from your chest or back and then converts it into an electric signal that can be read by the BeamO. (This is how many mechanical stethoscopes work.) The device also has a USB-C to headphone jack adaptor so you can listen in before transferring the music to the Withings app. In telehealth sessions, you can also stream the audio straight to your provider.
These are all readings that you can already take at home. You could buy a stethoscope, infrared thermometer, and pulse oximeter, and many smartwatches have similar single-lead EKG features. Many wearables already let you save your data in PDFs that can be shared with doctors. The novel thing here is condensing them all into a single gadget that can be shared within a family.
Of course, there are some other forces at play, too. The EKG and AFib detection features will need to face the FDA clearance process. Withings says in its press release that it expects the BeamO to go on sale in June this year, but if I had a dollar for every time a health tech company failed to hit their initial FDA clearance figures, I’d be a millionaire.
Withings in particular has had so-so luck with announcing a gadget at CES and getting quick FDA clearance. It unveiled its Move ECG watch at CES 2019, but that product never actually made it to the US. At CES 2020, it unveiled the ScanWatch, which also had EKG testing and sleep-related SpO2 monitoring features. However, it took the watch nearly two years to finally go on sale in the US. Meanwhile, the company announced the Withings Body Scan, a smart scale with EKG features, at CES 2022, but it took until August 2023 to get FDA clearance. We’re still waiting on the U-Scan, the at-home urine device Withings brought out for CES 2023.
In any case, Withings has certainly invested a lot of resources in the past few years in building out its at-home health platform. The BeamO is just the latest entry in that environment. It just might take a hot second before Withings can fully realize its telehealth goal.