I’m about one Apple product short of being a gadget junkie, and when it comes to fitness and food, I’m pretty hooked on all the apps and trackers out there. But ‘HapiFork’–a new innovation unveiled at CES 2013–is where I draw the line: The electronic fork measures your eating habits–including how fast you’re eating–and blinks or vibrates to let you know if you’re eating too fast. In theory, they’re trying to help you eat a little more mindfully, which I like…but in practice, it’s not nearly as effective as just thinking about what you put in your mouth.
On the HAPILABS website, the fork looks kind of like a plastic kiddies’ fork; on blogs where tech writers have taken their own pictures of it at CES, it looks comically large. Compare:
IRL (courtesy of Pocket-Lint.com):
But aside from how awkward it would be to eat with a massive electronic device (this is how not to impress your date), it’s also bound to disappoint as the personal diet coach it claims to be.
According to HAPILABS, the fork won’t just notify you when you’re stuffing your face too quickly; it will also track your eating habits and help you change them over time. It measures how long it took to eat your meal, the amount of “fork servings” taken per minute, and the intervals between “fork servings.” Then you can upload the info to their website or app to use their coaching program to “help you eat better and change your eating behavior.”
Aside from the fact that a lot of us eat (and drink) plenty of things that don’t require a fork, the premise that you should just eat smaller quantities of everything ignores some of the most important diet advice: That getting lots of whole, plant-based foods is a lot healthier than trying to get small amounts of processed foods.
I love my Nike FuelBand, even though I couldn’t really tell you what Fuel points mean, exactly, and I use my running apps even though I’m absolutely certain that they’re wrong about the length of my runs. The point is: They make me feel better about moving more, which is always a good thing. But eating less isn’t always a good thing, and it isn’t a diet rule everyone should go by. To figure out what your body needs and how much of it you should consume, you’ll need more than a giant electronic fork.