The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held at the beginning of each year in Las Vegas, always attracts a mixture of everything from high profile companies releasing flagship products to small start-ups showing off obscure inventions. This year’s show saw one of the more unusual inventions get major coverage. The product, called the HAPIfork, is what might be termed a “smart” fork – just like smartphones, the fork is full of fancy electronics and monitoring devices.
The HAPI part of the name, pronounced “happy,” is actually short for haptic, which means that the fork gives feedback to your touch senses. In this case, the fork vibrates when it decides you’ve eaten too much. This sounds like a random product to be one of the biggest at the show. It is, but a well-timed and publicized announcement at the beginning of the massive Consumer Electronics Show helped the HAPIfork get major media coverage. Some journalists have suggested that the coverage was actually a bit disproportionate to the importance of the announcement, but it made many headlines.
The idea behind the HAPIfork is pretty good, and the technology isn’t overly complicated. It simply monitors how fast you take each bite of food, and then reports that back to a smartphone or computer via Bluetooth or USB. It also vibrates as you eat when you’re eating too quickly. Research suggests that eating too fast is a major contributor to obesity. It takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register that our stomachs are full, and so eating slowly is a key to not overeating after you’ve already had enough. HAPIlabs, the company behind the HAPIfork, has lots more research and information available on their website, including a list of other negative effects from eating too fast.
Several months after CES, the fork still has not been released, but preorders are available via a Kickstarter page. Despite many reviewer’s comments and complaints that the fork received too much attention, most of the reviews are positive, suggesting that this will be a success. CES has a reputation for having products announced that never come to market, due either to small companies not getting enough funding or larger companies making products too futuristic and not marketable enough. While it is a cause for concern that the HAPIfork hasn’t come to market yet, HAPIlabs is still showing signs of actually delivering on the product. This will definitely be an interesting product to follow as it gets released.
Hayley is a freelance blogger, writing on behalf of Vivint, Tooele UT home automation system specialists. She also recommends visiting http://www.vivint.com/en/city/ca/lakeside for those residing in Lakeside, CA.