How Smart Scales Are Changing Our Health Industry
Smart scales are an up and coming new technology that brings weighing scales into the 21st century. Some of the newest scales have the ability to log your body weight over time – automatically – as well as the ability to measure body fat, bone mass and muscle mass.
These modern scales connect to your smartphone or the internet and automatically upload your measurements every time you weigh yourself. They also use technology such as electrical impedance to measure stats such as body fat percentage, bone mass and muscle mass. This is done by running a harmless electrical charge through your body and measuring it as it returns.
This makes measuring and recording your weight and other measurements much easier than they have been before. Instead of having to physically or mentally note your numbers every time you weigh yourself, everything is noted and compared for you. Most of the software included will freely plot the information on a graph for you too, so you can easily follow the trend.
In the future, we expect this information to become easily shared with medical professionals. Apple has already taken steps towards this technology with ‘Carekit’ and ‘ResearchKit’. CareKit allows you to keep track of your symptoms and share this data with your care team. ResearchKit will anonymously share this data in the medical research field. These advancements help bring medical research and information to doctors much faster than with previous technology (or lack thereof).
However, this puts a lot of trust into the hand of the ‘patient’ and the manufacturer of the devices. Electrical impedance is a notoriously inaccurate method of testing a body’s fat percentage as it can be heavily influenced by hydration levels. It trusts that the user isn’t wearing clothing and that they weigh themself at a similar point in the day to minimise (unimportant) weight fluctuations.
Smart weighing scales are a great step into providing doctors and researchers more information, they allow a doctor to see a patient’s weight history, easily at a glance – the patient doesn’t even need to go to the doctor.
However, Smart scales are no substitution for sterile, calibrated scales in trusted environments being used by trained professionals.