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Image credit: Terrence O'Brien / Engadget

Withings' latest fitness watch has a built-in ECG

Don't underestimate what this cute analog watch can do.
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Terrence O'Brien / Engadget

Smartwatches have long sought a killer app to make them something more than a toy for nerds and fitness fans. It may be that looking after our hearts, and keeping us out of the emergency room, is exactly what the devices were born to do. Withings is getting in on the action with its own timepiece that, like the new Apple Watch, can offer its users an on-the-spot ECG.

The Withings Move ECG packs a built-in ECG that can be used to monitor your heart and detect abnormalities like atrial fibrillation. Two sensors on the back of the case are complemented by one on the bezel, and if users want to take an ECG, they just need to hold both sides of the bezel. At least, that's how it'll work if the FDA chooses to give its blessing for the feature by the time it launches.

Each reading takes 20 seconds, with the results uploaded to the market-leading Health Mate app shortly afterward. It'll tell you, instantly, if it's detected an abnormality, and will let you send a .PDF of your results to your medical professional.

Gallery: Withings Move ECG hands-on | 16 Photos

The Move ECG also packs an analog face and activity tracking, with the belated addition of an elevation sensor to monitor how many floors you climb each day. If you have an older Activité then you'll be familiar with the rest of the specs, like connected GPS (over Bluetooth), water resistance and step tracking.

The most surprising thing about handling the watches are how light they are, without feeling flimsy or cheap. If you're familiar with Swatch's style of light weight timepieces, then this certainly won't be too much of a surprise.

Battery-life, so often an issue with smart wearables, is another strength of these devices, as Withings believes it'll last a year on a cell. And despite using a traditional watch battery, the company says that you'll be able to do two or so ECGs a day and still expect year-long life.

Withings Move

Withings is also launching a smaller, cheaper version of the Move without the additional ECG technology called, unsurprisingly, Withings Move. Aping the Swatch model, the company is looking to offer the Move in a number of cases and strap colors, with a focus on affordability and customization. Users will be able to choose from a number of case, wristband, dial, handle and watch face colors.

At some, currently unspecified, point in the future, the company will also launch an online customization portal. Prospective buyers will then be able to select pretty much every component of the watch to their specifications. NikeiD, eat your heart out. There will also be a series of limited-time offers for different bands and colors, depending on the season. And, later, businesses will be able to upload their logo to get branded timepieces -- something that may eventually trickle down to individuals as well.

Move will come with the same activity and sleep tracking you'll expect from the company, plus integration with Health Mate and numerous third party platforms. It'll also offer 50 meters of water resistance, connected GPS and the very welcome addition of smart wake.

Move ECG is launching at some point in the second quarter of 2019, and is priced at $130, with more details likely to come after the FDA has cleared it. The Move, meanwhile, is available to pre-order from today, with prices starting at just $70, with shipping expected to commence on February 5th.

Withings

There is one more product that Withings is launching at CES, the BPM Core, a connected arm cuff for blood pressure monitoring. This particular sphygmomanometer promises clinical grade monitoring for your heart, including ways to test for atrial fibrillation. Place it on your upper arm and after 90 seconds, the unit will be able to tell you your BP, ECG and Valve health, should you require it. Much like the Move ECG, its release is reliant upon the FDA's blessing, so Withings is saying it'll cost $250 and expects it to be out in the second quarter of the year.

Follow all the latest news from CES 2019 here!

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