There is now a booming market for wearable devices and the current niche generating all the sales is fitness-tracking.
I’ve been using a Fitbit ZIP for about four years and although I know the accuracy of these devices is questionable, they are at least pretty consistent and the data presented in the apps are motivating and fun.
Whilst your phone, smart-band or smartwatch might be able to tell you how much energy you’re burning and how much sleep you’re getting - you’re likely to still be stepping onto a set of basic scales to see if all this stomping about the place is keeping the weight down.
If you’ve found yourself wondering if there are smart-scales that can complete the measurement picture for you, I can tell you that there are. If you’re addicted to FitBit, then they make their own called the Aria. Undoubtedly nice, but £100 for scales? It must be possible to get them for less than that!?
Well, if you insist on Fitbit holding all your data, then I’m afraid it’s Aria only. However, if you’re content to hold the weight data elsewhere or you use an alternative like Google Fit, then there are many more choices and I settled on the Bluetooth Scale from Beets Blu. These come in at just over half the price of the Aria, which make them tempting value.
Although comparatively cheap to buy, these full-sized, quite heavy scales do not feel cheap in the flesh. Most of that flesh is high grade plastic, but the top is of tempered glass with metal plates to run the low power current through your feet. Yes, these scales can tell you more than just your weight, but we’ll come to that in a minute.
Setting up the scales with your phone is simple. Install the ‘Smart Scale’ app and your phone is ready to work with your scales with no further configuration required.
The app itself is similarly friendly. It’s not as slick as anything that FitBit release, but the information is all there and easy to read back. In settings, you fill out some simple profile data like your gender and height and you can set yourself some goals.
You can also link your scales to Google Fit, which means it will get your weigh in data too. I recommend doing this, even if you don’t use Google Fit for anything else as it charts your progress over time really nicely. Everyone knows that anytime they get on the scales and the weight has gone up, it’s a real disappointment. Once you’ve got a few months under your (loosening) belt then the odd pound increase doesn’t look so bad if the general trend is a downward one.
Back to the Smart Scale app and on the front page you can see all the data the scales are able to extract. You’ll get your body fat content, muscle percentage and your BMI along with the headline - your overall weight.
When I got started with the scales, the motivation of a new toy saw me easily lose a few pounds during the first week, but disappointingly it turned out by the weekend that I’d actually gained a small amount of fat and what I was losing was muscle. There’s no hiding from the truth with these scales!
Speaking of the truth. It’s hard to know how accurate scales actually are. I tested by weighing in on a Wii Fit scale, a traditional home scale from IKEA and the Smart Scale and all three reported the same weight to within a pound. That sounds good to me although I would warn (as do Beets Blu in the instructions), these scales do not like carpet or lino. Take them into the bathroom and use them on level tile.
If you’re not keen to take your mobile into the bathroom with you, don’t worry, you don’t need to. The bluetooth range means you can fire up the app and leave the phone in an adjoining room whilst you weigh in. The scales power up when you press down on them. The first thing they do is reset, so lift your foot off and then climb aboard when they show zero.
A button underneath allows you to switch between metric and imperial units and within a few moments you’ll see your weight displayed and an icon flashes showing the data being transmitted to the phone. The phone will then spring into life shouting out your data to the world in an unfeeling robotic voice. Another reason to make sure it’s a good result??
Back in the app you get at a glance progress for the last seven and last thirty days. At the moment, mine are all in the red, so I can’t honestly tell you that these scales alone are going to save my waistline - but I do feel better about knowing the truth and I also believe that scales that track you over time are far more useful than ones that just give you plain weight right now.
The Smart Scales from Beets Blu are well worth your consideration. Just make sure you don’t spend the £40 you saved on the FitBit Aria on chocolate and wine!