Think of a smartwatch that monitors your heart rate, tracks all your vitals during your daily and nightly activities, records all that data, and is able to send it to your healthcare professional.
I daresay everyone, myself included, would have pictured a device along the lines of the following:
We’re not wrong per se, but our instant mental gravitation towards picturing a device resembling one of the above images is precisely why I chose to discuss Withing’s newest Move ECG smartwatch as my Device of the Week for Health.
It doesn’t look like the rest, right? With the unstoppable rapid rise of smart technology and its assimilation into almost every object of our modern lives, I feel the Move ECG watch is definitely a breath of fresh air. Instead of owning yet another trophy piece of super sleek, high-gloss black screen that comes to life with a tap of a finger, we’re presented with something so unassuming, simple, and analog.
How would such a product compete amongst the many other smartwatches that visually better-fit the “smart” product archetype in the market (ie glossy digital screen and dynamic displays)? Well, it doesn’t. The Move ECG watch has positioned itself to be a fully-dedicated health app, not a lifestyle assistant. It isn’t jam-packed with contact-calling, messaging, emailing, web-browsing, photo-taking, music-playing, video-watching features; it is solely focused on tracking your heart rate and vitals for maintaining good health and detecting any signs of rhythmic abnormalities.
This differentiation in its product offering is another top reason why I found this venture to be interesting. I am a patient that has a family history of chronic heart condition, and thus I am constantly on the lookout for any heart-centric irregularities. I want a device I can have with me all day long doing what I specifically need it to, without it having redundant ‘smart’ connectivity features that I can find duplicated on my other devices. Instead of facing yet another digital screen as I look away from my laptop to my smartphone to my smartwatch, I’m interacting with a piece of gentle and approachable technology that has a sense of authentic familiarity instead of being a cold material possession.
About the Device
Developed and presented by French company Withings at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2019, the Move ECG watch is a new development in the company’s established portfolio of smart health and wearable technology, that has been certified by the FDA and CE, and is set to be released to the mass consumer market by the end of 2020.
How It Works
The Move ECG watch has to be paired with a dedicated mobile/tablet health application compatible with both iOS and Android systems. Its main function is to detect potentially deadly atrial fibrillation (Afib) in users.
How this device works is it operates on a simple single button cell. There are two electrodes on the back of the watch case that rests directly on the user’s wrist. The user simply presses a button by the side of the watch to activate recording, and places the other hand on the bezel of the watch, which houses a ring electrode. This closes an electrical loop that allows Move ECG to record the user’s heart’s electrical activity. The user has to remain in this position for a brief 30 seconds. The recorded heart activity is then broken down into various different vital monitoring and documentation, all of which is sent to and stored in the mobile application.
In just 30-seconds, the recorded data is able to discern any anomalies in reading and allows a full medical-grade health report to be generated and sent to the user’s respective healthcare provider.
Here is a product demonstration and showreel condensing my full interpretation and explanation above:
Pros of the Device
As mentioned at the Introduction of this post, this Move ECG watch has set itself apart with its bold direction to go with an unassuming, clean, and simplistic analog interface. This visual product appeal is a huge pro in the saturated smart wearable tech market. Along with that, the following are some factors I feel deserved to be recognised as a win for the device:
- Independent device, no need for charging, resembling analog watch with button cell
- Forgiving for users; several ways to interact with device to record measurements
- Can be used without paired mobile/tablet device nearby
- Rethinking a ‘smart’ interface – and going with an analog delivery
- Sleek, simple, approachable, familiar interface/watch face
- Health-centric features, instead of being a lifestyle assistant
- Analog interface could be less daunting for older users
- Analog interface could be appropriate for users who just want a convenient monitoring system
- Easy to understand how to use, not a steep learning curve
- Tracks all relevant vital data for a patient/user with heart-related concerns
- Medical-grade measuring and recording of health data
- Does not compromise on activity tracking features despite its analog form
- Does not compromise on sleep monitoring features
- Compatible dedicated health app on mobile/tablet
- Convenience of waterproofing up to 50m
- Market price point is currently much more affordable than the popular Apple watch
Cons of the Device
As I was researching the product offering and features, I was drawn to its straightforward and convenient heart monitoring system. However, as I explored more of its capabilities, I was disappointed to realise the watch also tries to bombard and pack in additional niche features of sports tracking, sleep cycle tracking, sleep interruption tracking, GPS sharing and tracking, etc, making me wonder if the idea of fitting in as much features as possible is a criteria to qualify as a ‘smart’ product?
• Packed with niche features that may not be relevant to users (same features found as built-in on iOS and Android; steps tracker, altimeter, sleep cycle)
• Up to 12 months of battery life only, have to be manually replaced
• Probable need for some user onboarding and acclimatisation to use of product
After completing this assignment, I feel a lot more compelled to think about ways a ‘smart’ interface and technology can be interpreted. Do we go along with the established and standard paths that have been laid before us, or do we dare venture into something unconventional yet so simple of a solution? Does a ‘smart’ device always have to look the way it does now in the market for it to qualify as one to consumers, or are people willing to explore and try something new – a breath of fresh, innovative air in a saturated consumer market amongst similar-grade products vying for your attention?
I feel that the Move ECG watch by Withings, amongst their extensive portfolio of health-centric devices, is definitely not new technology – it’s not even a new invention. But just by their tactical approach of looking at the delivery of interface, it sets out a whole new market for itself in a league of its own, it even inspired this post to be made. Changing physical interfaces not only changes the product, but it also reshapes our minds into reconsidering what makes a smart product smart, and better or lesser than another. Analog and simple does not always mean inferior, sleek high-gloss digital does not necessarily mean better.