Chef Sleeve has been selling its iPad-protecting plastic sleeves since 2011 to keep kitchen gunk off the iPad you’re using while you cook. They also make a dishwasher-safe, non-porous chopping board with a built in iPad stand (below right), and a smaller stand in the same recycled paper composite finish. But Chef Sleeve’s grand plan is to create a range of connected devices for the kitchen that link up with an iPad app to let people track their nutrition in a highly granular, yet low hassle, way.
To that end it’s just kicked off a Kickstarter campaign for its next product: a smart Bluetooth scale, which it’s calling Smart Food Scales, that will enable people to weigh ingredients and snacks and then determine the exact amount of fat, salt, sugar, vitamins and so on in the ingredients they’re using in recipes or the snacks they’re eating at home.
“This is our first smart product. We now want to activate these pieces of hardware and take the iPad even further and enhance the experience in the kitchen,” says Chef Sleeve’s Michael Tankenoff. “The Bluetooth scale will sync up with our iOS app on iPad or iPhone. Say you’re weighing strawberries. We house the USDA database of food information, so you select strawberries. Not only will it tell you the weight, but it tells you all the nutritional information.
“For example, you’re preparing a salad — you put your bowl on the scale, add your lettuce, select lettuce, reset to zero, add your tomatoes, select tomatoes, reset to zero, keep going, build this recipe and when you’re done, now you know exactly the nutritional value of that salad that you have every day.”
As well as the health conscious and people watching their weight, Chef Sleeve envisages the scales being useful for individuals with conditions such as diabetes to help them track their sugar intake, or people with specific nutritional deficiencies who need to make sure they’re getting enough of certain vitamins in their diet.
The company is looking to raise $30,000 via its Kickstarter campaign, which runs until the end of the month. It’s showing the following prototype screenshots (below) of the planned iPad software. It also intends to open up its API at some point in the future, so that third-party developers can build apps for the smart scales — although it’s going to be careful about how it does this, as it wants to keep any other apps wholesome (scales can, after all, be used to weigh non-foodstuffs too).
After the scales, Chef Sleeve says it will look to launch other connected devices that tie back in to its iOS app to keep adding to a range of smart kitchen devices. A thermometer could be next, says CEO Santiago Merea. A chopping board with an integrated scale could also be on the cards “at some point” — but he says the company is being mindful about its mainstream consumer buyer. “We need to be careful about our demographic. We’re not going to throw rockets at them,” he told TechCrunch. “We want the design to be very homey, very crafty.”
If the uptake of the scales is strong, it could end up generating some fascinating data for Chef Sleeve — such as what, when and how people eat — which it said it will look to feed back into its product development.
“Our pledge is going to be to not store any personal information at all — because we don’t need to but we also don’t want the risk of being hacked,” said Merea. “Food is personal… So we’re not storing any personal information but we don’t need to. With that data we can also even help our customers. It’s going to be really cool what we can do with this.”
Chef Sleeve already has stores interested in carrying the smart scales, according to Merea. It’s hoping to get into speciality kitchenware stores with the smart scales, a shift of its retail strategy which, to date, has been mostly focused on selling via Amazon (and its own website).