A spin on Google Glass and smart chopsticks on Baidu's menu
Baidu unveiled two new devices that were atypical of the Chinese search company's core software business, but like another certain search giant, it's an extension of the company's vision for building a connected world around its search engine.
Every year, the chinese search company Baidu hosts a developer's conference called Baidu World. This time around, the company itself took the opportunity to show off two new prototypes: A wearable called Baidu Eye, and Kauisou, a pair of smart chopsticks.
The Baidu Eye is the company's take on Google Glass. Like Google Glass, Baidu Eye is controlled by voice and gesture. Unlike Google Glass, it comes without a display. Instead, it captures information and delivers it to your smartphone. The Eye is tailor-made for Baidu's image search technology, viewing and processing information in your field of vision.
Baidu's commitment to the "Internet of Things" keeps moving the company closer to centralizing its devices (connected and mobile alike) around the Baidu search engine. The Baidu Eye, naturally, fits neatly into this picture. Baidu CEO Robin Li also said that voice and image searches will outgrow text searches in five years.
On the other hand, the company's pair of smart chopsticks is something of an outlier, considering that it actually started out as a company April Fool's Joke. While they may seem like a gimmick, the chopsticks, named Kuaisou (筷搜), actually fill a very serious need in solving the dire food safety issues plaguing China.
While the April Fool's joke version claimed it could detect ingredients in the foods it comes in contact with in the name of "food security", the actual version isn't all that different. The chopsticks might not be as sophisticated as initially and flippantly conceptualized, but Baidu claims that its prototype can detect the quality of cooking oil.
Due to the high cost of cooking oil in China, it's not uncommon for small restaurants to cut corners and use gutter oil -- black market oil recycled from garbage. A gadget like this would be a boon to Chinese restaurant-goers, who are already cautious as it is with food quality in China.
Both Baidu Eye and Kuaisou are still in the prototype stage. Don't expect pricing or availability to be announced any time soon.