Nokia announced its re-entry into the consumer market in late June by launching a portfolio of digital health products ranging from elegant activity/sleep trackers to smart scales and a home air-quality monitor. As the largest line of connected consumer health products on the market, they are now available for purchase on their website and at many retailers around the world. Many of these devices have been transitioned from the Withings brand, but Nokia also unveiled some new products including a Wi-Fi-enabled BMI Scale, a new Blood Pressure Monitor, and a redesigned mobile app to enable consumers to track their health data. In light of this announcement, Medgadget had the opportunity to chat with Nokia’s VP of Digital Health, Cedric Hutchings, about the new product line and Nokia’s future directions.
Mohammad Saleh, Medgadget: Why has a company like Nokia, historically known for its mobile phone technology, decide to get into the digital health field?
Cedric Hutchings, Nokia: At the very core, Nokia stands for enabling the human possibilities of technology. There’s probably no better place than digital health to carry on this mission. We are known for trust, reliability, and quality – attributes that are the building blocks for our digital health product portfolio. So it makes a lot of sense for us to re-enter the consumer market through this extremely meaningful offering that’s so close to the DNA of the Nokia brand.
Medgadget: Can you tell us about Nokia’s new digital health products? I understand these were designed by Withings, which was acquired by Nokia?
Hutchings: That’s partly the case. It’s a very exciting time for us at Nokia, because we are reintroducing consumer devices under the Nokia brand. We’ve seen in our recent market research that up to 80% of consumers who are surveyed about the relevancy of Nokia in the digital health sector believed that we already offer digital health products. So as of June 20th, we are very glad that all of the digital health products we provide will be branded under the Nokia brand. So you are partly right that there has been a portfolio of digital health products under Withings in the past, but now all the products, market presence, and branding will be under Nokia.
Medgadget: How does it all work? Could you walk us through how each of these new products integrate into a customer’s daily life?
Hutchings: Our products are designed in a way that does not scream “technology!” They are all very much designed for everyday life usage. We have these trackers that are actually a beautiful watch first. With our connected blood pressure monitor, all you do is wrap it around your arm and press a button – no need for any complex interfaces. What is common to all of our devices is that they work along with the Nokia Health Mate app. It gathers data from all of our devices – our scales, blood pressure monitors, and activity trackers – in one place.
During this transition to Nokia, we’re also glad to offer a newer version of Health Mate that has a redesigned user interface, experience, and most importantly, new features for a health coaching platform. Users have been asking for more actionable insights, and that’s what we’re doing here. We want to help users really take control of their own health through these beautiful designs that are generating appropriate and constant feedback. We’re taking it a step further, building a 30-week-long coaching journey that takes into account all of the data generated by our devices and walks you through the right routine to take control over your health.
This is an optional feature in the platform, where you have a few of these very different programs. Some have to do with helping the consumer to understand and better manage their body composition, not just weight. There’s one about the pregnancy experience, offering advice and health monitoring. Another has to do with managing one’s hypertension. And we’ll be adding more to the existing ones, acknowledging different goals that you might have while using these devices.
Medgadget: Can you tell us a bit about the scales and blood pressure monitors Nokia is now offering?
Hutchings: As of the transition, we are introducing two brand-new products in our portfolio. These did not exist under the Withings brand and [were] unveiled on June 20th. The first product is a BMI-WiFi scale. We want to provide more choice and accessibility in our digital health portfolio, so that’s why we’re introducing this entry-level scale. It will retail at USD $59 and will be able to measure weight and compute your body mass index while maintaining connectivity with our platform and other devices through full integration with Health Mate. It has a patented technology we’re calling “position control,” which is a very convenient and different way of weighing accurately.
Medgadget: I recall seeing a $100 scale on the Withings website. That’s a different product than this BMI-WiFi scale?
Hutchings: It is. As of June 20th, we’ll have three scale products. Their names, respectively, are Nokia Body, Nokia Body+, and Nokia BodyCardio. The one we’re introducing is Nokia Body, the BMI-WiFi scale. Body+ is a body composition scale that retails for $99. BodyCardio is also a body composition scale that conducts measurements on cardiac health, and it retails for $179.
Medgadget: Has BodyCardio’s ability to monitor cardiovascular health also been implemented in the blood pressure monitor?
Hutchings: You are correct in identifying that our products are focusing on cardiovascular health. BodyCardio does it while you’re standing on a scale, and we’ve recently published in the American Journal of Hypertension reporting the validation of these measurements against a common product that happens to be in hospitals. So we are very proud to bring this level of accuracy and measurement into a consumer device.
The blood pressure monitor only measures the pressure and heart rate, though. In addition to the Nokia Body scale, we are also launching Nokia BPM+, which is a brand-new, FDA-approved blood pressure monitor. It’s a flexible arm cuff, and unlike our existing model it’s much more comfortable, compact, and transportable.
Medgadget: So the portfolio includes a blood pressure monitor, a set of scales (one of which has cardiovascular measuring features), and there are sleep monitors and activity trackers. Those all make sense from a digital health point of view. But why does Nokia’s portfolio also include video, air-quality, and temperature monitors?
Hutchings: So, the temperature monitor is actually a core digital health device. Nokia Thermo is a touchless body temperature thermometer that could enable you to take a child’s temperature without having to wake them up. You can then have these measurements shared from the device to the profile of the user or parent.
Nokia Home is a monitoring device that has video capabilities enabling a parent to watch over their children while they’re away from home. So you’re not only going to get a real-time video feed, but you also get a timeline so you can check what has previously happened. To make it more of a wellness product, we’ve added air quality control to measure volatile organic compounds. So it enables you to check on your kid’s safety and on their surrounding environment. We’ve also added a two-way audio feature that’s very relevant for parenting and baby-monitoring – you can directly speak, or remotely set some lullabies or turn on the child’s night light.
Medgadget: What do you think distinguishes Nokia’s products and brand from competitors that carry similar devices?
Hutchings: We believe that we are by far the most comprehensive portfolio of digital health devices. We capture measurements from both unregulated and regulated devices (such as the blood pressure monitors and thermometers). So we have by far the broadest portfolio, and it all works together in one single app. I believe we’ve been true to our values of beautiful designs that are very simple to use. This is absolutely key when you want to offer the best solutions for health monitoring, and even more important for generating actionable insights and coaching people with these products.
Medgadget: What’s your vision for this field in the next decade or two? How do you think Nokia fit into that vision?
Hutchings: There’s a shift from treatment to prevention. We believe that our collaborations with renowned partners in biomedical research, such as Mayo Clinic, UPenn, or University of Helsinki, will enable us to better develop and deploy solutions for better prevention, early detection, and early treatment of chronic diseases. Nokia is committed to blurring the frontiers between pure wellness, prevention, and chronic disease treatment to bring about holistic solutions.
Check out Nokia’s digital health portfolio at health.nokia.com…
More from Nokia on their Health blog…