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My month as a HealthKit patient

Marco Tabini | Feb. 13, 2015
I'm a sucker for data. At my day job, I get to help businesses collect and analyze all kinds of information--a process that often leads to transformative change on the way our clients operate.

I'm a sucker for data. At my day job, I get to help businesses collect and analyze all kinds of information — a process that often leads to transformative change on the way our clients operate.

During my last physical, my doctor told me that it was time to start monitoring my weight and blood pressure, so naturally, I looked at this as an opportunity to try out HealthKit — something that I had been looking forward to ever since Apple introduced it with the launch of iOS 8. A couple months in, I'm here to tell you all about my little adventure in the land of smartphone-powered healthcare.

A health-centric shopping spree

Before I could start measuring everything Tabini, I would obviously have to acquire some new gear — namely, a scale and a blood pressure monitor. Luckily, this task was made somewhat easier by the fact that the list of HealthKit-compatible hardware is not exactly rife with choice.

In the end, I settled for Withings' $150 Smart Body Analyzer, and iHealth's $80 BP7 Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, both of which have somewhat mixed reviews online, but fared a bit better in recommendations from several friends who already own and use them.

As I was shopping, the first thing that I noticed that this modern version of healthcare is a rich person's game: Both devices are significantly more expensive than comparable models designed to operate sans smartphone connectivity. But I decided to persevere, and placed my order through Apple's online store.

The weight of things

Since the Withings scale arrived at my door first, it was the first device that I installed and set up. Initially, I was taken aback by the documentation that came with it: The pictorial quick-start guide that I found in the box was so short on text that it would probably make an IKEA instruction sheet look positively verbose.

The scale can either connect to a companion iOS app running on your iPhone via Bluetooth, or directly to a Wi-Fi network; either way, provided that connectivity is handy, the process is almost entirely automated and painless, which, perhaps, explains the lack of a thick instruction manual. The only hitch I encountered was that my original choice of installation spot (the inside of a walk-in closet) turned out to be out of network range — a fact previously unknown to me, since I do not typically use my iPhone inside it. Once I moved to my bedroom proper, the scale connected without problem and started working right away.

Besides your weight, the Body Analyzer can measure a number of other things: Your body fat/lean mass composition and pulse, the temperature of your room, and the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air. Perhaps most perplexingly, it will also check the weather for you, and let you know if it's raining or snowing outside.

 

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