Today, nearly every home appliance has smart connectivity. Not just smartphones and accessories, even traditional weighing scales are turning smart.
But are the smart scales any good?
Unlike traditional scales, smart scales measure several matrices of your body composition, not just your weight. The scale transfers a snapshot of your body composition to the associate app. The app can create graphs using the data collected showing you a trend in weight and other health measurements. For that reason, you may need a smart scale only if you are working towards achieving a health goal.
A quick overview of how this scale works and what it can do will help you figure out whether you need it or not.
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How Do Smart Scales Work?
Smart scales use biometric impedance analysis (BIA) to evaluate your body composition by sending a weak electrical current throughout your body. For that reason, some of them support up to more than 12 health matrices in addition to body weight.
Some of these matrices include body mass index (BMI), body water percentage, heart rate, lean body mass, visceral fat, and muscle mass among others. Some smart scales such as Withings Body Plus include useful pregnancy modes which can give you reading without causing health concerns to expectant mothers. Other smart scales give pulse rate velocity measurements mostly available to users in the European Union.
Smart scales have associated fitness apps to store all this data supported by the scale. The scale uses Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to transfer the data to your phone such that every time you step on the scale the phone stores all the resulting data we have listed above.
The app can graph changes over time and alert you when things are skidding off the normal. This quality will help you evaluate progress, identify a pattern and reverse small changes before they become problems.
That said, smart scales offer you an opportunity to quantify and track everything you eat. You simply get onto the scale, measure everything you eat, and have the data automatically transferred to the associate app to evaluate calorie intake and nutrients. Besides, you can also measure everything you do. You can measure your heartbeat and monitor your activities.
The data provided by the scale is enough to help you scan your health and make adjustments before things go worse. For instance, from the data, you can determine the secret of your weight loss (diet or exercise) and capitalize on it. Consequently, you can determine when you are slightly underweight but well hydrated.
For that reason, smart scales usually have clinical use and you will find them in healthcare settings too. However, you should consult with a technician before starting using these scales. Not all of them are safe for expecting mothers, younger children, and people with eating disorders – anorexia and bulimia.
Are Smart Scales Accurate?
Smart scales measure weight accurately just as you would do with the traditional scales. Measuring lightweight are often accurate within 6 ounces, which is fine with smart scales.
When it comes to body composition, I would say smart scales are fairly accurate. They tend to be so sensitive to an extent that they detect the differences in body formation such as foot size and shape.
According to a technical study conducted by Bousbiat on FFIs, they found that measurements can be affected by surface contacts, that is, foot size and width, foot position on the scale, and flexion of the legs. They further added that the measurements can also be affected by sweats on the feet.
Since there is no precise guidance on the scale on where and how to put your feet, during body composition estimation, the data obtained could be slightly exaggerated. The data could be an extrapolation of the measurements made on the lower part of the body to the entire body.
Therefore, the measurements you get for the body composition should be treated as estimates – they are not perfect. Even though they are very helpful in estimating your body composition, don’t let them be your final opinion in various diagnoses such as diabetes.
To reduce the error, you should use the scale with barefoot, dry feet, and ensure you are not holding anything that may throw off the analysis.
Who Needs a Smart Scale?
Generally, smart scales are helpful to people working towards achieving a particular health goal. You could be working towards weight loss or weight gain to manage conditions such as obesity, or chronic conditions like chronic renal failure.
The associate smartphone app often uses the data collected to create a graph showing you the trend in your weight and other health measurements. Some smart scale apps go the extra mile to offer nutritional guidance, fitness coaching among other resources.
To gain from this scale, you should weigh yourself frequently. To be precise, you should monitor your health progress on a daily basis. If you don’t use it so often, you will probably not find much value in an app keeping track of your health.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t go for a smart scale if you are not working toward achieving a particularly healthy goal that requires body composition. If your aim is simply to monitor your weight gain and loss, you rather go for the traditional scale. The reason being, smart scales are costly.
How Much Does a Smart Scale Cost?
Smart scales are typically more expensive than their standard counterparts. Smart scale prices range between $20 and $180. The difference in pricing is due to several factors, mainly the scale measurement capability.
The more expansive the scale is, the more matrices it can measure. Meaning, should you afford the expense you have assured a lot of features under your feet – right from weight measurement to graph and data tracking that will help you monitor your health progress all the time.
Smart scales are only useful for those who want the body matrices to be automatically transferred to the associated app for data analysis.
If you are okay with manually recording and monitoring your data and your main concern is only your weight, just get a regular scale. Smart scales cost more and if you are going to underuse them you better save that cash.
However, we would say that the scales are good. Though the body composition result is simply an estimation, the data is very useful when managing a condition.