A couple months ago everyone was flipping out over Vessyl, a cup that, when you poured liquid into it told you what the liquid was. It's a weird idea, because I would say 99 times out of 100 I am the one pouring whatever I'm drinking into the cup I'm drinking it from, so I know what it is. Even after watching the concept video a few times, I had a hard time figuring out whether it was a joke or not. Even though the folks behind Vessyl tout its ability to determine your "prime hydration" (a term they made up), unless it detects drugs that are slipped into your drink by sounding an alarm and pepper spraying the culprit, it's hard to imagine how this thing would be all that useful to anyone. But that didn't stop it from raising $3 million dollars.
So when I read about Smart Chopsticks, I thought "well, we've met Vessyl's spiritual successor." The fact that the spokesperson for Baidu, the company behind the smart chopsticks said that they"“began as something of an April Fool’s prank" didn't inspire much confidence either. But honestly, I'm kind of sold on the utility of these.
You see, China, the target market for the Smart Chopsticks doesn't have a food regulatory infrastructure like the United States does, and as The Wall Street Journal mentioned, China has seen a number of food related crises over the past couple of years "from toxic milk to glow-in-the-dark pork. Earlier this month, a cook at a hotel in the tourist town of Hangzhou was put on trial for painting food with “inedible pigment” to make it look more appealing." So, while I'm less interested in learning the provenance of the cooking oil my dumplings are fried in, I'd be very interersted in whether the meat within is contaminated, or spoiled or there is some other, non-food element in them.
So after reading about them, I found that these smart chopsticks actually probably have a lot of cool uses. Still not sold on Vessyl.