Chinese firm unveils smart chopsticks

Signal of change / Chinese firm unveils smart chopsticks

By Naomi White / 20 Jan 2015

Baidu, a Chinese web services company headquartered in Beijing, has unveiled smart chopsticks that can tell whether the ingredients in a dish are fresh and even measure their acidity and saltiness. Sensors in the battery-powered stick assess the food, displaying a red warning light at the top of the stick if something’s amiss. Further information can be sent to an app on the user’s smartphone. If all’s well, a blue light appears instead. 


Robin Li explained at the company’s annual technology conference how this could be welcomed by Chinese consumers following a number of high-profile food scandals in recent years. One problem is that cooking oil is improperly processed or repeatedly reheated – something the chopsticks will signal. 


Li believes demand for smart utensils will grow – both to test the quality of food and to keep an eye on diet. 


Photo credit: AFP/Baidu

So what?

With rapid take-up of self-quantification apps leading to health-conscious consumers, smart utensils may even become part of health plans, allowing medical professionals and insurers to monitor dietary habits.


More tools that help citizens monitor aspects of their surroundings, such as air quality, are coming to market. The potential to test food for its quality, make-up and even origin, could put a spotlight on standards in manufacture, retail and catering.  


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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