Friday, January 02, 2015

2382 Smart Chopping

Naturally the U.S. is the point source for many of the technological innovations we see around here. We know what it is we are likely to like in our culture. So it's interesting to note examples of innovations in other countries based on their unique needs.

Take China. Forget about Smart Home Thermostats like in the U.S. Or the Smart Toilets so popular in Japan. China has Smart Chopsticks. And apparently the giant Chinese tech firm Baidu is expecting lots of people to fork over good money for them. 

They unveiled them at their annual technology conference recently. That's an event kind of like Apple's big soiree, but without black turtlenecks. 

What would a pair of Smart Chopsticks do? Help in meal planning? Relay the names of different foods to a culinary app on your smartphone? Identify the mysterious tidbits in fried rice?

The last is actually close to the answer. The Smart Chopsticks have built in sensors whose main function is to detect the quality of the cooking oil used in the meal you are about to eat. They'll also measure temperature and calorie content.

Who cares about oil quality? The Chinese. The sticks are designed to combat one of the country's biggest food safety issues: "Gutter Oil." 

If you think gutter oil doesn't sound too appetizing, you're right. Gutter oil is cut rate cooking oil made from recycled garbage and sewage. It's used by many street vendors. Imagine your local food truck using 10W-40 to deep-fry those wontons. But worse. 

I hope it helps. But I'm not sure. If I was the type of person to lay down some major renminbi for an expensive pair of eating utensils, would I also prowl the back streets looking for a taste treat simmered in sewer oil?

America, ya gotta love it. 

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