Today Silicon Valley based-Shapa launched its first behavioral modification platform, aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle changes. The product includes a scale connected to the Shapa app. But unlike normal scales, this scale doesn’t tell users their weight. Instead the scale blindly weighs the user and then the interprets what their daily weight means for them as an individual.
“Sadly, technology had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the scale as a useful tool to manage weight,” Dan Ariely, cofounder and social science professor at Duke University, said in a statement, “because digital scales are giving us feedback at a granularity that is very high. Weight naturally fluctuates a lot, from day to day regardless of how much we eat, what diet we have and whether or not we went for a walk, and these fluctuations confuse, demotivate, and frustrate us. In fact, according to our research 80 percent of people who want to lose weight said that weighing themselves makes them feel bad.”
Shapa uses artificial intelligence to provide feedback to users on their progress. The product includes a five-level feedback mechanism based on colors. It takes into account normal, everyday weight fluctuations by averaging a user’s weigh-ins over the last three weeks. The app uses the AI to get to know the user’s personality, lifestyle and environment, and then tailors recommendations to the user based on this. The app also gives participants daily missions to complete based on these habits.
Multiple people can use the Shapa scale if they each individually download the app. Currently, up to seven people can use one scale.
Earlier this year, the company tested the product in a study. The study included 645 participants, of that 90 percent were female and 67 percent were obese. The study split participants up into three groups. Every participant got a Shapa scale and app. The first group could see their weight in pounds everyday on the app but nothing else. The second group got the five-point feedback on the app and the third group got both the five-point feedback mechanism and daily missions to complete.
The group which received both the five-point feedback and missions lost the most weight, followed by the second group that only got the five-point feedback, according to the company. The group that only got the scale function actually ended up gaining weight.
The app was inspired by Ariely’s behavioral techniques and combined with AI and mobile technology. It is currently on the market for $129 plus the $9.99 monthly program fee.