Friday, 15 December 2017
Reviews

QardioBase Review: A Smarter Scale for the Quantified Body


The QardioBase is a smart scale that helps you track and measure your weight along with a few extra vitals, like your body mass index, body fat, water composition, muscle mass and bone density. While these features keep the QardioBase competitive with smart scales from Withings—now owned by Nokia Garmin, Qardio has some clever features that makes it fun and less frustrating to get you to your ideal body.

The QardioBase joins Qardio lineup of heart related products, including the QardioArm that we previously reviewed and the upcoming wearable ECG device called the QardioCore. Priced at $149, QardioBase is competitive against the $179 Nokia Health Body Cardio and the $149 Garmin Index Smart Scale. All three units connect to a wireless network to send your body metrics to the cloud, and the data can be tracked, monitored or reviewed with an included app to get you to your weight goals.


Design


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Unlike competitors that use a boxier square-shaped footprint, the QardioBase’s circular shape gives it a more airy, inviting look. The QardioBase’s minimalist aesthetic feels like it could have a product of Apple’s Cupertino design team. The scale sheds any unnecessary dials and controls, making it look like a sleek white plate. There are discrete conductive strips that run on top of the scale that aid in measuring your body composition.

While the round design gives QardioBase its elegant aesthetics, the design can make the scale feel less stable if you’re stepping on it from the edges because the base is slightly smaller than the top.

Often times, it’s advised that people with heart conditions—like those with a pacemaker or with an implantable defibrillator—avoid scales with the conductive strips because a weak electrical current is used to record your body composition. This isn’t a problem with QardioBase, and you can use your smartphone app to enable the pacemaker mode, which disables the conductive strip. In this mode, certain measurements won’t be available, but it makes the scale safe for heart patients to use, which is a key demographic that Qardio is targeting with its smart medical devices.

And unlike most digital scales out there, you won’t find a window for an LCD panel to display your measurements. Instead, your measurements are displayed using green LEDs that shine through the scale’s white surface in the center, giving it a futuristic look.

The scale runs on eight AAA batteries—unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a built-in rechargeable battery, a feature that I appreciated on Nokia Health’s smart scale. Qardio says that the batteries should last for up to a year, but it’s cumbersome, and less environmentally friendly, to have to find eight batteries for each replacement.


A Smarter Display


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For those looking to lose weight, shed their fat percentage or gain muscle mass, looking at the numbers can sometimes be frustrating or disappointing. Rather than turn your health into a numbers game, you can have the in-built LCD display on the scale show one of three smiley faces to indicate your progress. For example, if you set weight loss as your goal, a happy face will indicate that you’re making progress, while a sad face means that you gained weight on that day.

While this may sound like a gimmick, it’s actually a clever way to show how your progress is on a daily basis without forcing you to stress about every 0.1 pounds that’s gained or lost. I actually preferred this Smart Feedback mode—you can also display numerical values instead if you choose—because it allowed me to monitor my progress without the micromanagement. Even if you choose to enable Smart Feedback, the app will still keep track of all your numerical values if you want to do more detailed analysis later. Seeing happy faces definitely was a positive reinforcement and helped motivate me to continue working out.


Initial Setup

Setting up the scale requires you to download the free Qardio app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. I already had the app setup when I was testing the QardioArm blood pressure cuff, and the QardioBase uses the same app.

If you’re buying into Qardio’s heart-centric smart devices ecosystem, this allows you to track all the important vitals related to cardio health in one central place. Additionally, it also allows you to securely share this data with your doctor or medical provider, allowing them to remotely monitor your stats from their office. Qardio’s QardioMD platform is HIPAA-compliant. By being able to share your data, particularly your blood pressure information from QardioArm and the ECG readouts from QardioCore (which is still in preorder right now), your medical provider will get alerted if the devices detect any anomalies, leading to earlier intervention.

When I spoke with Qardio, the company did not disclose how many cardiologists or physicians have signed onto the QardioMD platform, but if it picks up, it would empower patients to monitor and manage their own health alongside trained professionals. At this time, unless there are more practitioners participating in QardioMD, the full value of the platform remains to be realized.


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If you’re using the scale outside of medical needs or don’t want to share the data with a doctor, you can also share your readings with family and friends. For those with a weight loss goal, this could help keep you motivated and accountable.

Compared to Nokia Health’s smart scale, one metric that the QardioBase doesn’t measure is your heart rate data. The Nokia Health scale measures your heart rate through the conductive strips, but I found the feature didn’t always work reliably, and often times, I’d have to repeat the weighing in process just to get a heart rate reading.

To connect the scale to a wireless network, the app prompts you to pair the scale with your phone over Bluetooth. Once paired, your phone can send your Wi-Fi network credentials to the scale. Because QardioBase is connected to Wi-Fi, you won’t need the app or your phone for each weigh in—the data will be sent to Qardio’s cloud, and then it will sync with your app. Since I like to weigh myself just as I step out of the shower each morning, Wi-Fi makes it extremely easy to have QardioBase automatically log my measurements, given that I don’t take my phone into the bathroom.

Like the Nokia Health scale, QardioBase can be used for multiple users in the same household, and the scale will intelligently recognize the user that’s being weighed and upload their body measurements to the proper account. However, Nokia Health platform also supports more devices, allowing you to aggregate more health data. With Qardio, if you want to track your steps, for example, you’ll have to export your Qardio data into Apple Health, Google Fit or Samsung Health.

To keep you focused on your health or fitness goal, the Qardio app can also be programmed to send you a daily push notification to remind you to weigh yourself. Over time, with more data, the app will be able to generate useful charts and graphs, giving you a better way to visualize your progress.

The app can give you measurements in kilogram or pounds, and the scale is capable of measuring between nine and 396 pounds in 0.1-pound increments. The scale also has haptic feedback, meaning that it emits a vibration to alert you that it’s completed with the measurements.


Verdict

QardioBase is a smart scale with upscale aesthetics and an elegant round design, making it an appealing IoT accessory to keep in your bathroom. Qardio’s minimalist design and Smart Feedback display make tracking your body metrics less intimidating. Smart goal-setting, multiple user support and data sharing with medical professionals make the QardioBase an excellent choice for those with health or fitness goals to track and meet.



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