Withings Pulse update: what’s new?

June 12, 2014

The Pulse Ox has now been out a couple of weeks, selling like hot cakes. Is this due solely to the “wristband effect” or are there other reasons that could explain the huge success? Let’s go through the differences between the original Pulse and the new Pulse Ox.



I’ll save you the suspense: from a hardware point of view the original Withings Pulse and the new Withings Pulse Ox are the same. Anyway, the Pulse’s firmware has been revamped to allow for new features and for a more versatile usage. Here are the 6 main changes.

LEDS PULSE EN1. Different LEDs are used

As we’ve said above, Withings’ activity tracker has not changed from a hardware point of view (it has always been packing 4 LEDs – 2 green, 1 red and 1 infrared), but the way we use them has evolved.
• Before the firmware update, the Pulse used its 2 green LEDs to measure your heart rate, while the red and infrared LEDs remained unused.
• After the firmware update, the Pulse now uses the red and the infrared LEDS to measure both your heart rate and your blood oxygen level (SPO2), while the 2 previously active green LEDs are now “on leave”.

As you all understand, the Pulse was designed to be able to read your Fifth Vital Sign since day one, but we chose to wait until we were completely satisfied with the SpO2 tracking to release the feature.

Why this is good news

Along with your heart rate, you can now measure the oxygen saturation of your blood. All Withings Pulse and Pulse Ox owners now get more out of their activity tracker! Check out the “Blood oxygen level (SpO2): what you should know” article to learn in what situations and cases this vital sign is valuable.





Withings_PulseO2_automatic wake up2. Automatic Wake-up detection

Some Withingers using the Pulse reported that they sometimes forget to turn off the sleep tracking in the morning, after waking up. This is why we decided to develop a new feature: an automatic “Getting out of bed” recognition! Based on the movements and temperature tracked, your Pulse is able to tell that you got out of bed.

Why this is good news

Of course if you are a sleepwalker this will not mean that you woke up, but you get the point: prevent tracking errors leading to abnormally long nigths and unusually short days just because you forgot to switch your Pulse from Sleep to Activity tracking.




“This means that you don’t have to worry about how you wear your Pulse”



board (2)(0).jpg3. Versatile activity tracking

Adding a wristband to the Pulse‘s accessory kit required a change in the “step counting” algorithm. The list of typical “movement sequences” recorded by the embedded accelerometer and gyroscope – that we chose to recognize as steps – had to be expanded. Indeed, the impact of your feet on the ground spreads nonuniformly throughout the body and the signal you can detect isn’t the same depending on where you placed the tracker. Our engineers worked hard to carve a versatile code that works in all cases.

Why this is good news

The Pulse is now able to also accurately track steps when it is worn on your wrist using the wristband. This means that you don’t have to worry about how you wear your Pulse, even when sporting it on the wrist. Less constraints, more possibilites. More wearing options, less fashion faux-pas 😉




English Translation4. Language selection

Before the update all Pulses spoke English only. Since the firmware update you can switch between 6 different languages! You can choose to have your Pulse address you in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian or Dutch. Provided that one of these languages was already set in the Health Mate app at the time of the firmware update, your Pulse should have automatically adopted the corresponding accent.

Why this is good news

The Pulse‘s activity tracking becomes more personal with the device communicating with you in your preferred language. Note that the display languages of the Pulse and of the Health Mate app can be different if you want them to. In the app, simply go into “My devices”, select the Pulse and pick the language.





Withings_Pulse O2_vertical_SCREEN5. A new vertical “Watch Screen”

This new screen was a must since we had decided to make the Pulse wrist-wearable. Once it is strapped to your arm, the classic screens of the Pulse (steps, elevation, elevation, calories…) are not exactly displayed optimally, so we needed to create a specific screen, designed to be readable from that angle. It also made sense to display that watch screen first, before the other data, when you press on the tracker’s button.

Why this is good news

No need to stretch your neck or to twist your arm! Admit that it would have been very awkward to introduce a new way to wear your Pulse – as a smartwatch – without releasing this vertical “Watch Screen”.




Arti Health Mate ble6. Full-BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)

As more and more smartphones are equipped with the BLE technology, we decided to go one step further in leveraging the advantages it procures.

Why this is good news

Thanks to this connectivity breakthrough, new users of the Pulse who have a BLE-equipped smartphone can experience a new level of seamlessness during the initial set up.





“We are far away from the concept of planned obsolescence!”



Withings_Pulse-O2_3parts_blue_miJoking aside, what’s different?

Beyond the firmware-related changes, you might ask yourself “What’s different between the original Pulse and the Pulse Ox from a hardware point of view?”. The device is the same but the accessories it comes with are different.
• The Withings Pulse came with a belt clip and a thin neoprene sleep wristband.
• The Pulse Ox now comes with the same belt clip but with a comfortable wristband that can be worn both day and night (choose between the classic black and the vivid blue models).

As you can see, we are far away from the concept of planned obsolescence! It’s quite the contrary. That’s maybe the biggest asset connected objects share: they can be improved/updated remotely at any time, as many times as needed. You know what this means? You can expect more good surprises in the future! By the way, don’t hesitate to submit your suggestions for improvements in the comments.



Learn more about the Withings Pulse Ox activity tracker

• Click here to experience the Pulse Ox.

• Click here to read the testimonial of a Pulse user.

• Click here to learn about the making of the Pulse Ox.

• Click here to learn more about the Blood Oxygen Level (SpO2).



Susie Felber

Susie is a writer and producer who has worked in nearly every medium. As the daughter of a hard-working M.D., she's had a lifelong interest in health and is proud that she continues to lower her 5k time as she ages.
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