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HapiFork: Vibrating novelty or health revolution?

The vibrating fork designed to curb quick bites heads to Kickstarter.

James Martin/CNET

When HapiForkfirst debutedat the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the brightly-colored, vibrating fork caused a stir, landing press coverage from all over the world, including a mention on The Colbert Report.

Basically, the fork vibrates if you eat too fast. Some folks thought the fork served a useful purpose -- getting users to eat more slowly -- while others thought it was just a novelty. It is a vibrating utensil, after all.

The folks at Hapilabs, the company behind HapiFork, say they're just glad people are talking about the fork at all because that means there's room for a conversation about the health problems associated with eating your food too fast.

Soon, Hapilabs will know for sure how many people want to join this conversation. The company launched its HapiFork's Kickstarter campaign today, offering the fork for $89, for early birds, and $99 thereafter. They want to raise $100,000.

That's a mighty expensive fork, but Hapilabs CEO Fabrice Boutain hopes people will see it's about supporting a case, not just a utensil.

"This is not a fork, it's a revolution," Boutain told CNET while demoing the fork in San Francisco this week. For Boutain and his colleagues at Hapilabs, HapiFork is about combating weight and digestive issues that lead to more serious and chronic conditions, like diabetes.

The HapiFork tracks the number of times you shovel food into your mouth per minute and per meal, and you can't trick it by just making the motions. The fork has to actually enter your mouth before it counts a serving. The fork also tracks how long it takes you to feed yourself each forkful, how long your meal took overall, and when you started and ended the meal.

You can set the fork to two speeds for eating: 10 seconds or 20 seconds per interval. The company is also working on a spoon attachment and vibrating chopsticks.

Hapilabs President Andrew Carton said he recognizes that an eating utensil will not instantly cure all poor eating habits, but he thinks it's a start.

"It is not a magic potion. It is a tool to help you take control," he said.