CES: Tanita unveils wireless body fat monitor for kids

Tanita's BF-2000 IronKids scale actually hides the results from the user, and wirelessly transmits weight and body fat readings to an in-range dedicated device.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore

LAS VEGAS--Childhood obesity is a concern throughout most of the U.S., and yet most scales are not child-specific, nor do they take body fat measurements.

So Tanita's BF-2000 IronKids Wireless Body Fat Monitor, for children ages 5 to 17, is an intriguing concept. Just unveiled at CES this week, the monitor is set to be released in March for $150.

The Tanita BF-2000 IronKids Wireless Body Fat Monitor is set to be released in March for $150. Tanita

Company reps tell me the monitor uses alternating current signals to measure body impedance (a process known as biometric impedance) for body fat calculations. The whole process takes about three seconds for a reading.

Tanita is actually releasing two child-specific monitors, the other being a wired version (BF-689 for $69). What's intriguing about the wireless version is that it actually hides the results from the user, using the Ant+ wireless protocol to send data to an in-range dedicated device with Tanita's Health Ware software to record and analyze the readings on a daily, weekly, monthly, and/or annual basis. (The BF-689 displays results on the monitor.)

The idea here is that kids can be sensitive to weight issues, and in certain settings (gym class, busy household, locker room) might avoid using a scale for fear of being seen. Whether this approach will prove useful remains to be seen, but it does take a certain anxiety out of stepping on a scale.

The monitor, which weighs 2.7 pounds, tracks weight and body fat, is powered by four AA batteries, and has a weight capacity of 330 pounds.