Home > Uncategorized > Withings Activité – each step counts…

Withings Activité – each step counts…


This post is not about math… It’s about a watch which is elegant, smart and a good activity motivator. The Withings Activité is all the above and more. Apparently this watch is on a market for quite a while now, but I didn’t hear about it until recently (via a Facebook add, the irony… I usually despise ads). What caught me was the nice quality design and the promise that it can do more than just tell time.

So what exactly can this watch do?montre-1-black

  • tells time via an analog display
  • has a silent vibrating alarm
  • counts your steps
  • shows progress towards the daily goal
  • monitors sleep
  • can monitor running and swimming
  • battery lasts 8 months (that’s forever compared to other fancy smartwatches out there)

It’s normal for a watch to tell time, so I’ll leave the first one out. 🙂 Since you’re supposed to sync to your smartphone at least once a day to store your activity, time is synced automatically with your phone and the watch always shows the exact time. I was curious if the silent alarm will work on me, since I tend to have a profound sleep in the morning. It seems that the vibration is exactly what is needed for me to wake up. In fact it is possible to tell the watch to wake you up in a smart way by starting to vibrate when you’re not sleeping so profoundly. I’ll come back to this when talking about sleep monitoring.

Now let’s talk about the main thing which interested me about this watch: the activity monitoring. On the watch there is an analog dial which goes from 0 to 100 and it corresponds to the percentage of the steps you already made compared to your daily goal. In my case the goal is 10000 steps and even if in some days I may get to 15000 for me 10000 is always doable. The activity progress dial resets at midnight each day. If you reach your daily goal then the dial goes back to zero so you can continue to track your progress. Trying to always get to 100% really motivated me to move more. To get an idea, I barely had the watch for two weeks and it estimates that I walked 150 km during this time… This was done only by adding more walking in my usual daily programme, nothing more.

In my estimations, before having the watch, I barely reached 5000 steps in a regular day and I often tried to walkscreenshot_2016-11-16-23-26-37 even less, if possible… After having a 10000 steps goal I decided to walk to the metro station instead of taking the bus. This alone added more than 5000 steps to my daily portion of movement. On the plus side, I observed that sometimes walking gets me home faster than the bus and I also get to breathe some fresh air and clear my mind before going to work and when returning home.

The watch is not just a simple step counter. In fact it stores the number of steps you make each minute and at the end of the day you can see the periods when you were active with the corresponding intensity level (in terms of the walking speed). It automatically detects when you are running and stores this as a different activity (I didn’t get to test this though).

screenshot_2016-11-16-23-28-12I never used to keep my watch on my hand while sleeping, but the Activité also tracks the sleep. During the night it detects when you go to bed and it shows the sleep cycles (light sleep vs deep sleep) counted according to the movement detected my the watch. The app urges you to sleep more until you reach the 8 hours per night objective (some can live with less, me not too much… 🙂 )  The watch can also be set up to wake you using the silent vibrating alarm by choosing the moment when you have the lightest sleep some minutes before the time you want to get up. Even if the vibration is not too strong, the watch never failed to wake me up in the morning.

In order to benefit from the infos collected during the day you need to sync periodically to your phone. The watch has about 36 hours of memory from what I’ve heard, so if you do not sync it for two days you’ll lose part of the data. The sync is made via the Withings app which is available for iOS and Android. The requirement is that the phone is capable of working with Bluetooth Low Energy devices which basically means you need a recent iOS device or an Android superior to version 4.3. Unfortunately for me the watch does not sync with a Blackberry (even when the Android app is installed) so I need to sync with an Android at the end of the day. The ability to sync via a laptop through a web application would be great. Maybe it will be available in the future… When the phone is  connected to the Internet your data is sent to the Withings account where you can see a synthesis of your activity and, if you want, you can export your data for further use.

As a conclusion, the Withings Activité is an elegant smartwatch which tracks multiple activities (walking and sleeping included), centralizes the data and motivates you to be more active and more healthy. The watch looks really nice and unlike other smartwatches does not need recharging for months. The Swiss made version is quite pricy, but if you search a bit (like I did) you can find some pretty good deals for used products (the sapphire glass is unscratchable and looks like new even on used watches). The less expensive Activite Steel and Pop are also nice options. They do all the above in a cheaper shell. Supposedly Withings also prepares a version of the watch with a heart rate monitor on the wrist. I can’t wait to see it 🙂

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