Smart fabric can recognize the food you put on the table

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The researchers initially wove the technology into a tablecloth, and envisioned it as particularly helpful for cooking. An app could suggest a meal based on what’s sitting on the table, while a diet app would know what you’ve had to drink. Scientists also imagine Capacitivo serving as a memory tool. It could remind you to take your earbuds before you head out the door, or remind you to clean up if you leave an empty food bowl.

The initial project has limits. It doesn’t recognize metallic objects, and won’t work as well with books or other square-edged items. It likewise has problems with credit cards and other items that don’t have a clear capacitance footprint. Certain drinks don’t produce reliable results, so you shouldn’t expect your tablecloth to tell an IPA from a stout.

Don’t expect a smart tablecloth in the near future, then, although the technology should get better over time. The team hopes to detect metal, deal with less-than-ideal placement and enable touch input, among other upgrades. If all goes well, it could lead to a truly seamless smart home where you don’t have to rely on smart scales, scanning or other clunky methods to detect what’s in your kitchen.

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