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French pee reader sends health data from the toilet to your phone

The U-Scan, costing just under €500 at launch, can track a woman’s monthly cycle or monitor nutrition and liquid intake

The device monitors nutrition and can help women track their menstrual cycle too Pic: Withings

A urine analyser that can be fitted to any toilet and differentiates between users promises to promote better diets and help women keep track of their menstrual cycles. 

It has been developed by the French firm Withings, which already boasts success as the first to connect the read-out on bathroom scales to a person’s smartphone. 

When its latest innovation, the U-Scan, goes on sale in Europe this spring, it will be available with two cartridges to monitor separate health parameters. 

One will allow accurate tracking of a woman’s monthly cycle, while the second will monitor nutrition and liquid intake. 

Trials are also taking place for a potential third cartridge to analyse data for specific medical uses, such as kidney stones. 

Next day results

Each cartridge (90mm wide) is linked to a smartphone, which presents results of the urine analysis, along with relevant health advice and even suggested menus for the next day. 

It took four years for Withings, which was founded in 2008 and is based in Paris, to develop the U-Scan. 

CEO Mathieu Letombe said: “The ability to make daily urine analysis at home fits in perfectly with our mission to help people have unprecedented levels of health data from regular sampling. 

“It is one of the products we feel most passionate about, and one of the most complex we have produced too.” 

The company’s chief marketing officer, Elizabeth Coleon, told The Connexion that the cycle-tracker could be useful for women looking to get pregnant but it also has other health benefits. 

“By having accurate tracking and linking it to things like diet and hydration, it should let women get to know their bodies better and have a more comfortable cycle,” she said. 

Useful for athletes

Another use could be for athletes – recent research has shown female footballers are more likely to injure knee ligaments at certain stages of their menstrual cycle than others, for example. 

The U-Scan will cost just under €500 at launch. 

It is linked to a specific person, with sensors able to detect if someone else’s urine is hitting it, in which case valves to the rest of the device remain shut. 

For analysis of two people’s urine, it will be necessary to buy two separate devices. 

Ms Coleon said the company initially envisaged one device per toilet but had received so many questions about multiple devices that it is currently working on advice on how best to manage them. 

She said that at this point there are no plans for different colours, so people would know which to aim at. 

The cartridges are designed to last three months and can be replaced via a €30 monthly subscription or bought direct from the company’s website at €90 per cartridge. 

‘Urine analysis for €1 a day’

“The idea is to have daily urine analysis for €1 a day,” said Ms Coleon. 

The nutrition analysis cartridge could prove useful for sportspeople as well as those looking to lose weight, with readouts showing how much protein has been eaten compared to fruit and vegetables, for example. 

At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the US in January, the U-Scan won top innovation awards in three categories: smart home, fitness and sports, and digital health. 

Withings made its name with the first connected weighing scales, and these remain its best-selling product. 

They display a person’s weight on their smartphone to avoid awkward manoeuvring, and readings can be linked to graphs and inspirational messages for people looking to lose weight. 

The company’s latest scales include new features such as heartbeat and blood circulation analysis and can even report on the state of nerves, thanks to electric sensors that stimulate the sweat glands in feet. 

Another line for the company is hybrid smartwatches. 

A regular battery-powered analogue watch with hands is paired with a small screen offering features such as pulse and electrocardiogram readings. 

Withings raised €50million in 2020 to help develop its products. 

They are designed in France but made in Asia, with worldwide patents to stop the ideas being stolen.

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