How Apple’s cafeteria inspired this Kickstarter smart food scale

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SITU — a smart food scale created by a former Apple employee — is close to reaching its Kickstarter goal, and there’s still time to get involved.

An attractive Bluetooth scale which talks to your iPad, SITU works by showing you the exact nutrition content of any food you place on it — letting you see the exact number of calories, sugar, salt, protein, vitamins and minerals of whatever it is that you’re about to eat.

With just six days left to go, and £32,124 ($54K) already raised of the £35,000 ($59K) target, creator Michael Grothaus spoke with Cult of Mac about the project, and his history with Apple.

“The idea for SITU came to me while I was sitting in Apple’s employee cafeteria Caffè Macs,” he says. “I remember wishing that I could connect a food scale to my laptop via USB. Then I could put any food I wanted on the scale, and my laptop would tell me the nutrition content. When the iPhone came out a bit later, like everyone else I was blown away by the power of touchscreen technology. It was when the iPad launched that I finally started sketching down ideas for how a smart food scale might actually work.”

Caffè Macs is Apple's on-site employee cafeteria

Caffè Macs is Apple’s on-site employee cafeteria

SITU looks like an attractively designed Apple device, and it’s no surprise that Apple played a big role in inspiring Grothaus.

“I was constantly being exposed to all these cool gadgets,” he says. “For instance, by the sink in the kitchen they have an embedded iPad. You can select milk, coffee, orange juice, soda, or whatever else, and then whichever you choose comes out of this single faucet. It’s a typically neat Apple design — simplified in the best sense of the word.”

Grothaus also shed some light on what he thought of Apple culture:

“I’ve worked for a lot of big companies — like Twentieth Century Fox and the Art Institute of Chicago — and Apple was by far the best from an employee perspective,” he says. “I’ve never worked for a company where you felt more valued. Apple is very special. I remember being in a presentation with Tim Cook, who was talking about some new software Apple was working on at the time. He started the presentation by saying, ‘Everything that I say in this room is off the record. Apple values its privacy, and we value your privacy too. We are a family, and so I know that I can tell you anything and it’s not going to go anywhere else.’ Just having the person who was then the number 2 person at Apple refer to us as a family — and mean it — showed just why Apple is different from a lot of big corporations.”

Grothaus says this extends to the way higher-ups in the company interact with employees, whatever their position.

“Although [Apple is] very closed in some ways, it can also be very open in others,” he says. “It didn’t feel like the normal structured corporate hierarchy. You would regularly see Tim Cook eating in Caffè Macs, sitting with different people from all parts of the company. That really stood out — that executives like Schiller and Cook weren’t locked away in their offices, and instead that they feel approachable. They’d talk to you like you were a normal person, rather than just a lower-down in the pecking order.”

SITU creator Michael Grothaus (middle) during his time at Apple.

SITU creator Michael Grothaus (middle) during his time at Apple.

Grothaus says that SITU is a learning tool for calorie counters, diabetics, hypertensives, athletes, and anyone else who wants to lead a healthier life. He claims to have lost 60 pounds in six months using the devices, but notes that it is designed for anyone who wants to slim down, bulk up, reduce their bad nutrition intake, or simply eat more of the good stuff.

More details (including other videos) can be seen at the link below.

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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