Recently, Stephen Colbert lampooned gadgets that track what you drink and other seemingly inane metrics. But the trend may have just found its ideal market. The Chinese search giant Baidu just introduced a pair of “smart chopsticks” designed to alert users to the presence of “gutter oil”, or the illegal use of oil dredged up unsavoury places.
The utensils are called Baidu Kuaisou, and according to the Wall Street Journal, they can detect “oils containing unsanitary levels of contamination”. The product was hyped today at Baidu’s annual conference in Beijing, alongside a Google Glass-like product called Baidu Eye. But Kuaisuo, like the recently-introduced Vessyl smart cup, reportedly uses a series of sensors to determine metrics like oil quality, temperature, PH levels, and even calories, then transmits that information to an app. A tiny blue LED at the tip of the chopsticks would give you an on-sight reading.
Pricing and availability is yet to come, in a manner befitting what could very likely be vaporware. But that it’s even an idea of a product does reflect growing concerns in China about food safety. Gutter oil, in particular, is a disturbing trend. If you’re unfamiliar with it (and have a strong stomach), check out this video about how the oil is processed. It’s often dredged from sewers or garbage disposals, and then processed and sold to restaurants and even pharmaceutical companies, after which it gets passed along to unwitting consumers, who are put at serious risk from the toxic stuff. If it takes a pair of future-chopsticks to help discourage the practice, that’s just as well. [Wall Street Journal]