About this project
What is the Smart Food Scale?
Our Smart Food Scale and iOS app provides you with exact nutritional information for the food you are weighing and helps you track what you’re eating. Our app will also help you prepare meals using weight instead of measuring cups and spoons. A simple tool for smart cooking. (expected MSRP of $99)
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How does the Smart Food Scale work?
The Smart Food Scale connects via Bluetooth 4.0 to iOS enabled devices (iPad 3/4, iPad mini, iPhone 4S/5, iPod Touch 5) and syncs to our app. It connects to your device like any other Bluetooth enabled device. Hold the power button a few seconds and it's discoverable. The app recognizes it and asks to sync; then most of the fun happens on the iPad itself. Unlike most other scales the display is backlit so it's not visible until it's "on". The buttons are also backlit and touch sensitive. This results in a very clean design. Our Smart Food Scale can also play on it's own – it's a fully functional food scale with "tare", "hold", and "unit" functions with or without being synced. We are also very interested in sharing the scales API (meaning the scale will be able to communicate) with select 3rd party apps – the possibilites are tremendous.
How does the app work?
Let's say you're making pasta salad. Place a bowl on the scale, tare (zero), select your first ingredient (in the app) add it to the bowl. Do the same with the following ingredient, the app will recognize that you are doing this and tare the weight to account for the new ingredient. Continue until you have finished your masterpiece, at which point you can see the nutritional information for the entire dish. With USDA information at your fingertips, no manuals or tables necessary!
You will be able to prioritize your nutritional information as you see fit. Track more than just calories and fat. How about your Vitamin C intake for the day? Did you get enough iron this week? Gain more insight into your nutritional self.
This is just our app. Imagine the possibilities with supported 3rd party apps!
Our app will pull nutritional data from the USDA from day zero. However, if funding goes better than expected, and backers think it is a good feature to have, we might integrate other databases as well. There are tons of APIs out there and with the right funding we can access them and deliver even more content to your scale.
The basic functions and features of the app include:
- USDA, searchable, online database of food information.
- Multiple user support with the ability to switch between users.
- Displaying nutritional information of food item or combination of items.
- "Swipe to add" function which allows you to tare (zero) the scale and add new items while keeping a running total of everything – great for creating meals and following recipes.
- User defined data management which displays info in a more friendly format defined by you.
- Ability to mark items as "favorites" so you don't have to search for them.
Wondering about Android support? Scroll down to see our FAQ.
What's next? Milestones.
As of right now, we have working prototypes of the hardware and the app. Our next step is to define the bill of materials and set the hardware design so we can acquire the tooling needed for our manufacturing plant to start mass producing the scales. Part of the money will go towards this goal. As you guys can probably imagine, it's one thing to make a couple of scales in the shop and another very different thing to have machines make thousands of them automatically. This jump represents a lot of money in fixed costs and is the reason why Kickstarter is so amazing for companies like ours.
During this month, we are also going to be working on polishing the UI design and, depending on how much we raise, implementing more features. We also want to ask you what features you would like to see and try to implement them into our first version. At the end of the day, our scale is all about what YOU are interested in knowing about the food and nutrition that impacts YOUR daily life.
We are partnering with a very well known scale manufacturer to create our Smart Food Scale – these guys already ship to thousands of retail stores around the US. The look, feel and new fangled functionality is going to be dictated by us, but the internals are going to be powered by their already trusted technology. This means that we can produce more rapidly and with fewer hiccups.
As of right now, we are using an Arduino Leonardo for prototyping, but a much smaller microcomputer (open source, probably Arduino family) will be sourced for the final product. We are also exploring the alternative of the final product not even needing any microcomputer at all, if the Bluetooth chips can be pre-configured with all of the proper settings before final assembly. This is nerd talk for "less is more." A Bluetooth 4.0 (low-power, newer version of this technology) chip will serve as the nexus between the iOS app and the hardware.
The hardware technology is nothing new nor revolutionary. There are many wireless body scales already in the market. Our Smart Food Scale, however, lives by the mantra "you are what you eat." We want to craft this scale and app the same way we craft all of our kitchen accessories for iPad and for the same purpose: empowering the iPad so it can empower you. We really do think that if a body scale shows you the results, that our Smart Food Scale is going to show you the means.
A full menu of information.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that some of these details might end up being slightly different from the final unit. As we develop newer versions of the prototype we have the opportunity to identify more efficient ways of doing things, so we can always make things look and work better.
- Dimensions: 250mm (W) x 180mm (L) x 15mm (H)
- Aprox. weight: 1lb
- Capacity: 15lbs/7kg
- Measuring Units: oz, lbs + ozs, g, fl oz, ml
- Increments: 0.1oz, 1g (how precise the scale is)
- Battery: replaceable CR2032
- Display: Backlit LED or Reverse LCD (no display appears until "on")
- Top: Glass with white backing, touch sensitive buttons for functions "on/off", "tare", "hold", "unit"
- Bottom: Compressed recycled wood fiber, or wood. A stainless steel is also being considered. Anti-slip feet, etched logo
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
What can change?
Well, in life, pretty much anything can change. But with our Smart Food Scale it won't. Here's a list of things that might turn out a little different:
- Scale bottom – virtually every scale has a plastic bottom. We don't like that. We're planning on using the same material we use in our stands and cutting boards (a recycled, compressed wood fiber). The only problem with this material is that it tends to be expensive and sometimes hard to work with. Alternatively, we're thinking stainless steel. This has a thumbs up from the manufacturing plant. We're open to feedback on this from our community. Maybe you prefer one over the other?
- Scale dimensions – the dimensions are approximate until we see a first official run (before the mass production one). We also want to play with the surface area more and see if this size is truly the best size for a food scale. We think it is... or at least, pretty close. The most likely dimension to change is the height (by, at most, an additional 7mm).
- Backlit display – this will either be backlit LED or reverse LCD. The result is the same and you won't see the screen until it's on.
- Battery – CR2032 is the standard (round) battery format used in scales. We've asked to look into more "green" alternatives. Our target is one year battery life with average use. This might change as we test the finished model. The battery life is being calculated based on the bill of materials, but when it's all put together we will need to re-test. Keep in mind that the displays we used for the first prototypes are not the ones we will use for the final model, so this is just a target and not a fixed number.
- App – Here is where you will see more changes. Software is the easiest thing to change in our plan and, as we get more funding, we can add more functionalities and continue streamlining the design.
At Chef Sleeve we make kitchen-safe products for your iPad. We began 2 years ago with our recyclable iPad sleeves that made it safe to cook with your iPad. When Oprah magazine named us one of 30 ways to upgrade your life, we knew we were doing something right. Soon after, we released our line of dishwasher-safe accessories that went into big box retailers nationwide.
We are committed to bridging the gap between food and technology to make the kitchen a place of confidence and discovery. We've come along way in 2 years, but our mentality is still the same: Let sustainability and simplicity be our guides; iPad friendly kitchens, our goal.
This is our first "smart product" and we are very excited to see it come to life. We added some great people to our board of advisors that have experience in these areas and we found great manufacturing partners to make this project a reality and avoid any major hiccups. We are ready to deliver these kinds of products now and we want you to be part of it as well.
Our leadership team includes:
- Santiago Merea - CEO: Linkedin profile
- Taimoor Dar - Director of Brand & Design: Linkedin profile
- Michael Tankenoff - Director of Communications: Linkedin profile
- John Schmitt - is a veteran technologist in Silicon Valley, with more than a dozen patents in hardware engineering, control systems, in the chip equipment industry, and has 25+ years experience hacking on nearly every software stack. He also has started up another successful consumer startup (GoPhoto.com).
- Padma Rao - was the head of marketing at Zynga and worked in companies that include Sephora, Netflix, and Gap, Inc. She is now CEO at HaulerDeals and a very hands-on advisor. We are very lucky to have her in our team.
- Jordan Eisenberg - is a serial entrepreneur. His latest product, UrgentRX, is being distributed to thousand of stores across the US. Jordan brings an execution mentality and tons of experience to our team.
Risks and challenges
As with all of our products, we work with amazing people and industry leaders to plan, design and bring our ideas into fruition. All good things take time, which we are confident we have enough of for a November delivery. Everything we've asked for has been given thumbs up from the manufacturer; but the details need work and we also risk small changes to the design. You can still expect the best bluetooth food scale you've ever seen. We will keep our backers in the loop about all of the ups and downs, and any hiccups that may come along the way. Rest assured, we are prepared and ready to keep our end of the deal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Although we are an Apple accessory focused company, we heart Android. In the past we haven't developed for Android devices for the simple reason that everything we made (sleeves, stand, etc.) relied on working with a particular device shape. iPhones and iPads have been consistent, while Android phones and tablets vary. It's been difficult to justify the production costs of supporting so many form factors.
An app, however, is an entirely different story and the math seems compelling: one Android app = many Android devices. So, this sounds like a much more feasible task for a small company like ours. At this point we are still focused on fully developing the iOS app. Android isn't out of the picture. Many backers, like yourself, have been wondering about it.
Here's what we can say as of May 2nd: iOS is our primary goal, but...
1. if there's enough community interest we will consider Android after the scale and app prove successful on iOS (2014).
2. if funding is super duper successful (we don't have a set goal for this), maybe there's a chance we can develop the Android app and scale API in the same time frame as iOS.
If you want Android support leave us a comment and we'll see how this pans out in the next few weeks.
The Smart Food Scale will use Bluetooth 4.0. This means it has the potential to pair with the following iOS devices (all of which we are planning for but have not settled on as the decision is also partially based on app performance on each device):
iPad 3/4, iPad mini, iPhone 4S/5, iPod Touch 5
The Smart Food Scale will have +/- 1g (0.035oz) of precision and a capacity of 15lbs/7kg. There's been some interest in higher precision (0.1g), but after much research and consulting with experts we're still convinced 1g precision is the right choice.
1. Affordable scales that offer 0.1g of precision usually have a max weight capacity of 100g to 500g. That's just over 1lb. This max capacity is obviously not enough for most cooking and baking needs.
(NOTE: When looking at other scales, don't mistake 0.1g with 0.1oz accuracy! Some manufacturers state 0.1oz accuracy. We'll have 0.035oz of precision.)
2. The size of 0.1g accuracy scales is usually very small. Internal components are so expensive that the scale surface needs to be small to be able to reach that accuracy. And since most of these scales are limited to 500g of capacity, they're generally used for jewelry and other light but valuable goods.
3. If you're going to make a scale accurate to 1/10th of a gram AND have a capacity of 15lbs/7kg, the cost goes into several hundreds of dollars because you've just made a laboratory grade scale. We're trying to keep our MSRP at $99.
4. We talked to several chefs, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, tea shops and nutritionists, and they all agree that there isn't a need for 0.1g precision given what we're trying to accomplish. In their opinion being 10x more accurate does not add enough value to justify the cost to the target consumer.
We understand some of you will still want a scale with 0.1 of accuracy instead of the standard 1g. Unfortunately, this isn't going to be that scale. On the plus side, for the vast majority of you, 1g precision (the weight of a paperclip) is very much going to be as accurate as you'll ever need.
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