As a tech writer, I get pitched a lot of bizarre, head-scratch-inducing apps. But this afternoon, I received what is perhaps the strangest one yet: An app that uses the iPhone's microphone to detect whether or not a watermelon is ripe when you knock against it.
Yes, it's a watermelon ripeness detection app, and it is available now in the app store. No, this is not a joke (as far as we can tell, anyway), and yes, it costs $2. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to knock the ever-loving pulp out of your watermelon while holding your iPhone next to it, because the Melon Meter is here. (Note: Android version not available).
After you've downloaded Melon Meter and reexamined your life and very existence, you are ready to use the Melon Meter. The app first takes you into a Melon Meter tutorial before it allows you to use the meter, because God forbid someone uses this thing incorrectly. Let's go through it together, shall we?
"Note: Only medium and large watermelons are supported at this time" is probably the greatest app disclaimer of all time.
This is the part of the Melon Meter process where you should become self-conscious that everyone at the grocery store is staring at you.
I haven't done any research to back this up, but I am almost positive that this is the first time "Press the button" and "Get ready to knock the watermelon" have ever been used in the same sentence.
Presumably, you will be "prompted to stop" by the Melon Meter app itself and not by a concerned member of the supermarket staff, but who knows.
The California-created Melon Meter app -- which a company spokesperson assured me had for some reason been the number one app in the Kuwaiti App Store for 8 days following its July 25th launch -- also comes with some of the best iTunes store information for any app I've ever seen. For example:
Fact: Market Research shows that up to 60 percent of watermelons bought are either overripe or underripe
Everyone hates spending hard earned money on a watermelon, anticipating a nice juicy, ready to eat melon, only to find the melon is not ready to eat
Melon Meter cannot tell you how sweet a melon is. It can only help you find the most ready to eat melon.
After 2 years of research and development [editor's note: Two years?!?!], we have developed a tool that will help you find the most ready to eat melon in the store. This tool, or software algorithm, allows the iPhone to analyze the decay rate (the time it takes for a sound to end) of the signal produced by thumping a melon. We have determined that “ready” melons have a unique “decay signature.” Melon Meter analyzes the sound, and tells you if you have found a melon with the “decay signature” that corresponds to a “ready” melon.
And, to top it all off:
*** Disclaimer *** The use of this app is not intended for use on anything other than watermelons.
Having no idea what this could possibly mean, I pressed Melon Meter developer Chris Bower for more on Twitter, and he responded with the following: "I take no responsibility for your imagination running wild ... I was speaking of people's foreheads, of course."
This disclaimer has not stopped me, of course, from testing out the "watermelon decay signature" of every single forehead within rolling distance of my desk chair. For those curious, HuffPost Business Editor Maxwell Strachan has a luscious head that is quite close to perfect ripeness.
The interface of the MeterMelon app itself is simple and pretty fun, with an old-timey radio microphone (station call letters "WMLN," naturally) and a cartoon melon meter that is half-watermelon, half-meter:
And hey, if you were thinking of suing the makers of Melon Meter, don't bother: "This app is for fun/informational purposes only -- and as such we accept no liability on its use, and outcome of results." This is a cagy move by the Melon Meter developers, as an informal test run with the app indicated that my AP Stylebook was ripe and ready to be eaten at my next BBQ.
Sure, the Melon Meter might not be perfect, and it might occasionally rate textbooks as edible, but ask yourself: Has there ever been an easier way to use a piece of smartphone technology to determine the edibility of a common oval-shaped fruit?
I didn't think so.
The Melon Meter app is available in the iOS App Store for $1.99.