There are so many options for health monitoring nowadays it's difficult to figure out which one's right for you. Then there's the issue of accuracy. The Philips HealthSuite is a new line of products that boasts refined accuracy and a laser focus on health.
That means the Health Watch isn't going for the prettiest wearable medal, nor will it be able to do everything you've ever wanted, so those used to fancy trackers and smartwatches may not be impressed. Rather it's claim to fame are in-house sensors, syncing up with the other Philips devices and the app to provide a customized wellness program for you.
Eline de Graaf, director of Philips Personal Health Solutions, told us that the Suite is definitely for the average person but it's also very focused on specific groups of people. For example, if you want to lose weight, you may pick up the watch and a scale, or if you want to track your high blood pressure, the $250 watch and $99.99 blood pressure monitor would be the way to go. Depending on what you choose, you'll head to the app where you can see your progress, find advice and see your trends over time.
That all probably sounds familiar if you've used any other wearable before. But Philips plans on differentiating itself in several ways starting with its FDA listing. de Graaf states, "All of the devices are FDA listed and clinically validated in terms of the accuracy of the data they collected and provide the user."
Though not FDA approved - there are several layers in the system that don't require approval - the HealthSuite is considered medical grade, meaning it's accountable for having top notch accuracy and data.
To help reinsure the doubtful, de Graaf says the sensors are a huge part of the Suite where you can't even find the ones in the Watch elsewhere.
"We develop sensors in-house for Philips. We use the latest sensor technology for the Health Watch. We also license out previous versions of our sensors so they are in other devices in the market. But these particular sensors aren't available anywhere else except for the Health Watch right now."
Part of the accuracy also comes in the form of the software found in the app. All the data crunching algorithms being used in the Philips cloud base are also the ones used for its other health applications. Over time, the data that's being fed into the app will also be analyzed to give you a better picture of your activities - and what you can do to improve by providing slight behavior modifications.
It may sound odd, but along with a clinical scientist on staff, there's also a behavior change psychologist who helped out on the app's creation to ensure the best ways to make sure you continue with your plan. de Graaf notes, "Behavior change element is a big part of our focus" and the team is constantly questioning the ways the app can be improved.
"How do we include behavior change techniques in our programs? How do we make it more and more sophisticated over time? How do we make the analytics more sophisticated over time? And therefore the advice we give people."
Similar approaches can be found with Microsoft Health, or even Samsung S Health and Pebble Health, where the algorithms are trying to provide meaningful insights with the data collected from the wearable.
The Philips HealthSuite is also the same idea behind other connected scales and wearables that sync up to an app like the Withings Body Cardio, Fitbit Aria, Garmin or even the Under Armour Healthbox. So Philips isn't exactly breaking ground with its offerings but it doesn't seem like the company is trying to.
Still, Philips' wants to provide a well rounded overview with its array of connected devices and its medical grade qualifications does seem to set it apart. Where the other connected devices are for the fitness folk who are used to tech that comes stocked with a lot of features, de Graaf says Philips is going for something different.
"It's really the average audience of chronic diseases. People that are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have high cholesterol or a combination of those things. We're not focused necessarily on people that are very healthy, or very fitness focused.
"We think this offering is really more about health and helping people who need to get to better and healthier habits. People who need to make those small changes and take those small steps to better health rather than fitness fanatics."
How we test