Directly using a smartphone as a scale is (still) impossible, while carrying a separate scale with you can be cumbersome. But what if the scale were integrated into the smartphone case?
The startup MyGrams currently wants to finance such a project on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The scale is part of the protective case, can be easily removed and transfers the weight via Bluetooth to the MyGrams app. It can also communicate with other apps using an open API.
The scale is to have a height of only 6.5 mm. Unlike pocket scales currently available on the market, MyGrams uses four small load cells (one in each corner) instead of a larger load cell in the center.
A scale that is always with you and an easy-to-use app would be a great help for people who need to keep an eye on their diet. The compact size and Bluetooth connectivity could also make it a useful tool for many other applications.
I hope that MyGrams will be more successful than other crowdfunding campaigns for very compact scales with Bluetooth: iScale (Kickstarter) didn’t get financed while Weighitz (Kickstarter) hasn’t published any updates for over a year.
So far, apps which claim to transform a smartphone into a weighing scale generally fall into one of two categories:
- Simulators: They pretend to be a scale, but simply show a previously entered weight. Might be good for dealers wanting to rip off gullible customers, but certainly not much else.
- Creative sensor use: Some apps try to make use of existing sensors in order to calculate the weight of an object. This could mean balancing your phone on a bag filled with air and placing an object on it while the app measures the inclination. Another app requires putting your smartphone on top of the object you want to weigh and then dropping both on a cushion. Of course, you’d also have to repeat the procedure with reference weight. Obviously, this is not exactly user friendly. While I haven’t tried any of the apps myself, they mostly received one star reviews. Unlike the simulators, which at least do what they pretend to be doing, it doesn’t look like these apps work well enough to be even remotely useful.
Therefore, I was surprised when I saw the following video featuring Peach-O-Meter, an application which compares the weight of two peaches:
It’s easy to use and seem to be working better than anything available so far. This became possible thanks to 3D Touch, a feature on the new iPhone 6s. A new layer of capacitative sensors registers how hard you press on the pliable glass:
Pressing down onto the glass bends the glass very slightly at the point of contact, shortening the distance between your finger and the corresponding capacitor plate in the array beneath the display.
Putting peaches on your screen is probably not what Apple had in mind when they introduced 3D Touch as “a new way of interacting”. Originally, the program author had planned to use grapes, but discovered that the iPhone ignored them. He’s announced that he’s purchased calibrations weights and is planning to run further tests. There’s also at least one company which is trying to develop a professional app (with “calibration cubes”).
I’m looking forward to seeing where this leads, thought I’m skeptical concerning the usefulness of such an app. Want to weigh lightweight “objects” while you’re on the move? I’m sure you’d get much better results from an inexpensive pocket scale. Using your top-of-the line device in the kitchen has its own perils and reminds me of this sketch from a German comedy show: