Withings Updates Its Pulse Activity Tracker With Blood Oxygen Monitoring

Withings pretty much nailed the activity tracker with the Pulse activity tracker, which features a built-in heart rate sensor that uses pulse oximetry (just like the Galaxy S5). Now, it has updated that product with new sensor capabilities with the Pulse O2. The O2 can also measure blood oxygen level (hence the name) and offers a new bracelet mount for improved wrist-borne wearing. Existing Pulse owners don’t have to spring for new hardware, however; the original Pulse gains the oxygen sensing capabilities of the O2 via a free firmware update.

The Withings Pulse O2 looks just like its predecessor – it’s a small slab with rounded edges and a clear, blue light up readout that’s easy to see while you’re on the go and in most lighting conditions. It tracks steps and can switch to tracking more intense activity, like running sessions, automatically. You can also see elevation, distance and calories on the readout by swiping through the interface, and now you can change the readout to read it vertically when you’re using it with the wrist-mount bracelet accessory.

The heart-rate monitor on the back provides information about heart rate as measured through the blood vessels in your fingertip (a trick used by Samsung, as mentioned, and also TomTom in its new Cardio GPS sportwatch). The added feature to this sensor is a measure of your oxygen saturation level, or SPO2, which tells you how efficiently you’re breathing. This is handy if you’re training at high altitude or trying to scale K2, and it can also be handy for those with breathing afflictions like asthma looking for a quick (non-medical) way to assess their current state.

Pulse O2 also features sleep pattern monitoring, and works with Withings’ own health app, syncing data about your day and health wirelessly with your device over Bluetooth 4.0 for review either in the app or in a web-based dashboard. It also works with other apps that use Withings’ API, and the Pulse O2 charges via standard micro USB, eschewing the need for specialized charging cables.

The Pulse O2 is $119.95, and is on sale now at Withings.com, with retail launches through Apple, Best Buy and Target coming in the next few weeks.