Nissin, the manufacturer of Cup of Noodles, has been putting their designers to work in order solve various food issues related to Japanese culture. The first product released from the series is Otohiko—a massive electronic fork trained to recognize and combat slurping noises Japanese eaters tend to make while consuming noodles. Observe:
Apparently, a team of audio engineers with an oversized windshield analyzed slurping sounds of various Japanese eaters. Then, they trained an app connected to the gigantic fork to recognize general slurping sounds so it can mask them with even louder ocean-like sounds. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at these meetings...
All jokes aside, Otohiko is a reminder that tech and design can help make cultural barriers less of an awkward experience. We've seen this addressed by Google with their recent translating earbuds, and now here it is with noodle slurping. Whether this fork is needed and actually helps ease any cultural barriers is up for debate, but Nissin's entertaining commentary on the matter is much appreciated.
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Production of the fork will only begin once there have been 5,000 reservations placed. Please reserve yours now before December 15th so my set of 5 will go into production.
Update 11/30: As readers O Studio and Bran Johnson mentioned in the comments and I failed to originally mention even though I just returned from Japan—Otohiko is especially puzzling because in Japan, everyone eats Ramen with chopsticks, and noodle slurping is actually considered a compliment to the chef. The fork will only be available for purchase in Japan, which makes the concept even more confusing—why is Nissin trying to suppress parts of Japanese culture to please Westerners? Overall, Japanese culture is very polite, so this could be a take on that. Whether it's a humorous or serious one is unclear, however.