Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
At two o’clock in the morning, I was huddled inside the electronic repair shop with a cup of black coffee in one hand, and a greasy maintenance manual clutched in the other. I’d been dragged from sleep, by the Officer of the Watch, with ominous news. The depth sounder had bleeped an alarm and then decided to shut itself down. And, because, our minesweeper was navigating relatively shallow waters, the situation could quickly become dangerous.
This was unfamiliar territory; normally, I maintain radios and teletypes. I flipped open the manual, cringing as I read the introduction. The operation of this device, it noted, depends more on art than science. What? I winced again and turned the page. It was going to be a long night.
When I first heard about the new type of smart scale that used weight, electrical current, and a smartphone application to measure body composition, I thought back to my experiences with the flaky and extremely undependable depth sounder. Did these smart scales actually work, or was it more a matter of hocus pocus?
Happily, these devices are backed by science and math. Body composition scales use bioelectrical impedance, sending a safe and very low electrical current up one leg and down the other.
Electrical current flows more quickly through water and muscle than bone or fat. A smart scale records the current flow and, using a mathematical formula, estimates body fat. This result, combined with the user’s weight and height, is utilized to determine other aspects of his body composition.
There are more accurate methods of measuring the various components of body composition, but they tend to be invasive, time-consuming, and expensive. The intent behind a device of this type is to provide a basic baseline measurement. Then, over time, the user can monitor changes. Adjustments in eating habits or exercise levels will, for example, be reflected in body fat and muscle mass reports. This information can be extremely useful.
The Arboleaf CS20N weighs 1.6 kilograms. It measures 300 millimeters by 300 millimeters and reaches 25 millimeters in height.
The upper section is composed of white glassy material with four metal plates which are used to conduct electricity through the lower section of the user’s body. An LED readout indicates weight, notes when the unit is calibrating and confirms that a wireless connection is available. Measurements are available in both kilograms and pounds.
The lower section includes a plastic housing for the various components, a battery compartment, and four legs. To ensure the weight measurements are accurate, this scale must rest on a smooth, hard surface. Three AAA batteries are supplied.
When I lightly tapped the scale, it paired automatically with my smartphone. The downloadable iOS or Android Arboleaf application allows this scale to be utilized by several users.
Information from the Arboleaf application can be fed to Apple Health, Google Fit, and the Fitbit app. If the user owns a smart watch that monitors health and is compatible with one of these applications, a great deal of useful information can be acquired and shared.
- Manufacturer: Arboleaf
- Model: CS20N
- Weight: 1.6 kilograms (3.53 pounds)
- Dimensions: 300 mm by 300 mm by 25 mm (11.8” by 11.8” by 1”)
- Power: 3 AAA batteries
- Measurement Range: 0.2 – 180 kg (0.4 – 396 lb)
- Measurement Resolution: 0.2 kg (0.4 lb)
- Application Compatibility: iOS and Android
- Number of users accommodated: Unlimited
- Main application: Arboleaf
- External applications accommodated: Apple Health, Google Fit, and the Fitbit app
- Bluetooth support: Version four and above
- Body composition tests: Weight, body fat percentage, body type, visceral fat, body water percentage, muscle mass, bone mass, BMR, BIM, and metabolic age
Arboleaf Corporation is a privately held company in Plano, Texas. They design and market body composition scales which are manufactured in China.
Once the Arboleaf application has been installed and the scale paired with a smartphone, setup is complete.
To activate the scale, step onto it with the heels and toes of both feet touching the metal pads. Your feet must be bare and dry.
Do not use the scale immediately after a workout or with a full bladder. Try to weigh yourself at approximately the same time each day and remember that consistency is the key. If you drink a glass of water before mounting the scales one day, but not the next, results will differ.
While current levels are not normally dangerous, those who are pregnant or use internal medical devices such as pacemakers should avoid bioelectrical impedance devices.
The Arboleaf scale provides information on ten different body composition components. A brief description of each is listed below.
Weight is calculated in either kilograms or pounds.
Body Mass Index
BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
This is the amount of fat in your body, compared to everything else. Men and women carry different levels of body fat.
This is a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity. An excess of visceral fat will increase the risk of severe health problems. Visceral fat is estimated to be 10 percent of total body fat.
Muscle mass percentage is also known as lean body mass. This figure includes everything except for the fat beneath the surface of your skin. It is calculated using your weight and body fat percentage.
The amount of water in the human body ranges from 50-75% and is dependant upon age and hydration level. Mental performance and physical coordination become impaired when dehydration approaches one percent. Body water can be calculated using a formula which includes your weight.
The amount of bone tissue in your skeleton will continue to grow until you reach your late twenties. At this point, your bones have reached their maximum strength and density. Bone mass is derived from age and lean body mass (total body mass minus fat). On average, bone mass is seven percent of your total weight.
Basal Metabolic Rate
This is the average daily amount of energy (calories) used by a body when it is at rest. BMR is calculated based on weight, height, and age.
Metabolic age is a comparison between an individual’s basal metabolic rate against the average BMR for a particular age. The calculation uses your age, to determine your body's efficiency by comparing that benchmark against the average metabolic rate of different ages.
The three main body types are Ectomorph (long and lean), Endomorph (big with high body fat), and Mesomorph (muscular and well-built).
Weigh results proved accurate, and repeated tests displayed consistency.
The Arboleaf application installed correctly and recorded information from the scale. It was able to connect and retrieve data from Google Fit. The application provided graphs and figures for nine of the ten aspects of body composition. It did not provide Body Type, presumably because I failed to enter the required measurement into Google Fit.
Specifications note that the scale can accept multiple users and keep track of their data separately. In order to verify this claim, I climbed onto the scale carrying a six-ounce ashtray. My slightly higher weight was duly recorded.
I then dusted off my set of barbells, pulled a five-pound plate from each end, and carried them onto the scale. The application noted that my weight had drastically changed and asked if this was correct. This suggests that, if the application was set up for several users, the Arboleaf system would work as specified.
The Arboleaf Body Composition Smart Scale is a well-designed device that includes an application which records weight and establishes a baseline reading of numerous other aspects of body composition. As you adjust your eating habits and exercise, changes reflected in the application will indicate progress in improving your health. I recommend the Arboleaf CS20N Smart Scale.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why do my feet need to be dry to get an accurate reading?
Answer: Some feature on these scales are not meant to be used as an absolute value, but rather to watch a trend (be it increase, decrease, or maintain). I would always recommend using dry feet, as that's what they're designed and the algorithm is programmed to expect. , By doing this, you also avoid the potential slip hazard of wet or damp feet.
© 2019 Walter Shillington