We've known for years that weight is never a perfect measurement of how healthy you are, since muscle weighs a lot more than fat. Subcutaneous fat around the waist is a big issue, and an indicator of a number of metabolic issues, including diabetes and heart disease. That's why Olive Healthcare has built Bello, a body fat scanner designed to analyze the timber around your waist and help you deal with it.
I tried Bello for myself at CES 2020, and the process is surprisingly fast: turn the device on, connect it to the app, and you're ready to go. Then you just press the device just above your belly button for three seconds, and then below it for the same amount of time. Inside, a pair of infra-red sensors are measuring the absorption and scatter of the light to work out how much fat you're carrying.
Unsurprisingly, I'm carrying too much timber, and the companion app told me that I'm on the border between "Bad" and "Worst." You then get a score out of 10 to reflect your general health (I was 5.4), but will get more accurate over time as it aggregates a number of fat measurements with your activity data. On a single charge, the device will run for 120 or-so-days, assuming you make one scan each day.
The idea is that you will use Bello on a daily basis, scanning yourself as part of your morning routine to monitor how your fitness journey is progressing. And, inside the app, you'll get tips on good exercises to do and good foods to eat in order to keep on the straight and now. Of course, it's not possible to spot-reduce fat, but focusing on the most critical area for fat loss may be a good motivator for some folks.
Bello is currently being crowdfunded on Indiegogo, with early backers getting 50 percent off the retail price of $379. Those who buy now will also get a free lifetime subscription to the app thrown in, whereas latecomers will need to spend on a regular subscription. The price may be a little higher than I'd like, but I can see how a daily fat scan would maybe help folks stay motivated, especially during diet season.
And if the company is successful, then its next-generation product seems even more exciting: A handheld breast-cancer scanner. That device would look for water, fat and deoxygenated hemoglobin in such a way that, the team hope, will provide a cost-effective early warning system for cancers.
Update 8/1/19 12:50pm ET: This article mistakenly called the company Olive Union, rather than Olive Healthcare. We apologize for any confusion.