Combining form, function and design

I came across what I think is a stunning product – one that combines form, function, and design. It’s called a soft scale and what it does is deceptively simple.

  • It converts an ordinary bathmat into a weight and BMI scale
  • Fiber optic LEDs sewn into the mat display weight trends of the past two weeks against a goal
  • Wireless connection to the web permits realtime data analysis and graphing on a smartphone

Soft Scale

What I love about this is the fact that it is so unobtrusive. Most people don’t like to check their weight very often. It’s just a reminder of how badly you’ve been eating and how many sessions at the gym you’ve missed. But the soft scale is already a built-in part of your daily activities. The minute you step out of the shower, you towel off on your bath mat, and the best part—you’re on it long enough for an accurate reading of your weight. It has been designed for the human psyche of avoidance—there is no new learning curve here and no new habit to be cultivated. I can’t think of a better example for behavioural design.

Unfortunately as far as I could tell, the soft scale is still a concept and not an actual product. I first saw it in this presentation by David Rose, where he uses magic and enchantment to discover what delights human behaviour. He specifically calls out:

  • Omniscience
  • Communication
  • Protection
  • Health
  • Teleportation
  • Expression

I’m kind of stunned by how the manifestation of all human desires that are found in music, movies, art, and literature repeat themselves in technology. I mean in hindsight it seems obvious, but all the majorly successful tech products fall into one of these buckets. I highly recommend this presentation, it’s a refreshingly unique take on how to design for usability.


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