Today’s Life-Sparring round is all about Bagel. No, I don’t mean the dry stepbrother of the doughnut, but another ambitious Kickstarter project I backed last year.
Kickstarter campaigns with Life-Hacking potential have been a repeated topic here on Life-Sparring.com. The Life-Sparring round on Baubax’s “World’s Best Travel Jacket” from March 2016, is to date still the most viewed article.
The team of Bagel Labs, Inc. shot for similar high targets than Baubax, only this time the goal was creating “The World's Smartest Tape Measure.”
10,766 backers pledged US$ 1,353,798 to turn the concept for Bagel into reality. Coming late to the party, I contributed US$ 69 plus shipping for my smart tape, by far my most expensive bagel to date. Bagel is currently selling at US$ 89 via the company’s website.
Seriously? On-Time Delivery on Kickstarter?
The Korean Team of Bagel Labs executed fast. I received my Bagel in early December, almost exactly as originally scheduled (November). Everybody who ever backed a Kickstarter project knows that on time delivery is as rare as a unicorn.
With the holidays (Christmas, Chinese New Year) a lot of travel and a busy start to the year professionally, it took me a while to take the time for a closer look on the Bagel.
Bagel arrived nicely packed with manual the stretch goal additions a silicon protection pouch with clip and a water level bubble cube. The first impression was entirely positive. Bagel looks sleek and well designed, and the finish comes across high-grade. At 127g (4.5 once) the measuring tape weighs about the same than a creme cheese bagel from your neighborhood daily.
Downloading the Bagel iOS app and pairing the device with my phone was smooth. After pressing the Bluetooth button on the device and hitting the Connect Bluetooth button in the app, the connection was established pretty much immediately to put the smart into the measurement tape.
Looking Good, But What’s On The Bagel?
The features of Bagel are straight forward. Bagel measures with three different modes: a retractable string, similar to a soft measurement tape, for example to take body measurements or measure shorter distances; a measuring wheel with laser guidance, for one-handed measurement or curvy measurements, and a remote mode, to measure distances to objects using an ultra-sonic sensor, again with a laser pointer as aiming assistance.
Measurements taken in any of the three modes are saved to the device with a tap on the big button on the top side of the device, and a voice recording can be recorded with the inbuilt microphone to add a tag, making sure that you don’t take your bicep circumference for your calf size. Up to 100 measuring records can be saved on the device, stored entries are transferred to the phone app (iOS and Android) whenever the device is connected via Bluetooth.
Inside of the app, measurements can be visualized as a graph over time (useful for body measurements for examples) and all data the phone app can be exported via Email in form of a CSV file. A smart measurement tape, indeed.
Some Things Look Better Than They Are
Bagel looks great, feels great and promises a lot. But with all its bells and whistles it is at the end a measurement tape, meant to do a simple job: taking measurements.
Unfortunately, the basic function of Bagel is the weakest point of the device. The string works and is fairly accurate; it is however not easy to handle. Different from a classical measurement tape, you don’t see exactly where the measurement begins. Also, the speed of retracting and detracting the measurement string can influence the result. This makes taking measurement quite tricky and tedious.
When taking body measurements, a main intended application for me, another downside of the string design is, that it cuts deep into the skin and produces different measurements than the ones taken with a conventional tape measure. Also, once a measurement is taken, and the string is retracted, it usually does not reset to zero but has to be reset via a press of the button.
The wheel function has some severe problems. Even focusing hard on rolling on a straight line, measuring the length of my floor tile, I constantly get results that are off by 3.3% (2cm on a 60cm measurement). This inaccuracy makes this mode utterly useless for me. There must be a severe calibration issue with the measuring wheel.
The wireless mode is only useful to measure distances to bigger objects, as you have to make sure you are aiming right and nothing is remotely close to the line of sight. The only useful application that I can think of is to measure distances to walls in empty rooms. However, with a maximal distance of officially five meters (my Bagel switches from showing a measurement to showing “too far” roughly at 4.5 meters), the use of this mode is relatively limited. My test measurements at smaller distances were fairly ok regarding accuracy, but as mentioned before, how often will I use it?
Getting Kicked by Kickstarters
Disappointment is surely not a new experience for Kickstarter backers. Quite often do Kickstarter campaigns fail to deliver everything that they promised.
Most Kickstarter Backers know the risk and in a way not knowing 100% what to expect when a backed device arrives is part of the crowd financing appeal. Reactions to underperforming devices therefore mostly relatively tame.
With Bagel, the backer community is not that accepting. The comments section on the Kickstarter campaign shows almost 1,400 comments, most of them complaints about accuracy issues or shipping problems. Those asking for a refund are the least drastic messages; some backers get personal and are outright hateful. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to the shortcomings of Bagel.
Obviously, even the patient Kickstarter community loses its cool when “The World’s Smartest Tape Measure” is too smart to take simple measurements.