NEC Robot Says Humans Taste Like Bacon

Posted 5 Sep 2006 at 16:22 UTC by steve Share This

Kim Goossens and marev sent us links about a new Japanese "wine-tasting" robot; one from the BBC Technology News and one from Yahoo's AP wire service. As it turns out, the new NEC robot doesn't actually taste wines, cheeses, and other foods. Instead, the Health and Food Advice Robot determines the chemical composition of wines and foods by using IR light from an "optical tongue" to determine a unique "spectral fingerprint" for each food. The articles note that the robot can only accurately identify a few dozen wines out of the thousands on the market. It also made a few interesting identifications during the demonstration: "Some of the mistakes it makes would get a human sommelier fired - or worse. When a reporter's hand was placed against the robot's taste sensor, it was identified as prosciutto. A cameraman was mistaken for bacon." If you really think you need a robot that can guess the name of foods and wines you show it, expect to pay "about as much as a new car". They hope to eventually get the price down to $1,000 and make the robot's guesses more accurate. For more information, see the NEC System Technologies news release.

press-relaunch, posted 5 Sep 2006 at 19:09 UTC by magnus » (Master)

when the story circulated a month ago (see http://shifz.blogspot.com/ 2006/07/wine-tasting-robot-from-japan.html),
they hadn't attached the enduser-spin to it yet.
it was supposed to be aimed at large-scale wine-fraud ...
somebody obviously decided it would go down better with the media if they put emphasis on far-off future visions (as you remark at the moment the cost and the capabilities prevent it from being marketable soon) -
and put a colorful plastic robot-encasing into the photo-setup, which was a giant leap forward ;)

commercial scanner vs consumer robot, posted 5 Sep 2006 at 19:24 UTC by steve » (Master)

Thanks for the link! Marketing it as a commercial wine-fraud or food identification scanner rather than a consumer robot makes a lot more sense to me. I don't even really comprehend why they think it needs to be a called a robot. It isn't mobile or autonomous, so it's hard to see it as a robot any more than a can opener or a toaster. It really looks more like a portable spectroscopy unit in a goofy, anthropomorphised case. Perhaps because it wasn't reliable enough to sell it as a commercial tool, they repackaged it as a consumer product?

On the other hand, maybe it's just the precursor for armies of hungry robots that think human flesh tastes like delicious bacon.

LOL!, posted 5 Sep 2006 at 19:41 UTC by magnus » (Master)

the hungry-robot army explanation of the classification hasn't come to my mind earlier - i must ask myself why! it's so obvious!

One more link, posted 5 Sep 2006 at 22:20 UTC by steve » (Master)

thorn_stevens posted about this robot in his Robot Stock News blog.

couldn't resist, posted 5 Sep 2006 at 22:26 UTC by steve » (Master)

My wife says I should have titled this one "Robots don't know it's not bacon". If you're not familiar with US TV commercials, "dogs don't know it's not bacon" is a well-known tagline from a commercial for bacon-flavored doggie treats.

Winetasting is old fashioned anyway., posted 6 Sep 2006 at 08:21 UTC by marev » (Observer)

Spectral fingerprints should be placed on every food/drink item thats sold,far more accurate information about the product than the old fashioned wine tasting etc.

couldn't help , posted 6 Sep 2006 at 11:23 UTC by magnus » (Master)

picking on the poor bot a little ;) http://shifz.blogspot.com/2006/09/wine-tasting-robot-hires-new-pr- agent.html http://magnusthelife.blogspot.com/2006/09/life-before-big-robot- uprising.html

p.s. previously unaware of the commercial - hehee

arrr, posted 6 Sep 2006 at 11:25 UTC by magnus » (Master)

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