Sharp top

Electronics maker Sharp recently announced the prototype of a new, unlikely product that has set the Japanese Internet community abuzz …

This story actually has its beginning about six months ago, when Sharp Europe ran a competition called “#GetItDownOnPaper”, which invited students and graduates in Europe to submit ideas for solutions to everyday problems by sharing them on Twitter. The winner would be offered a two-week paid internship at Sharp Laboratories of Europe, a wonderful opportunity for any aspiring inventor.

The lucky winner was Siobhán Andrews, a student of Sustainable Product Design at Falmouth University, England, whose idea for an interactive chopping board apparently impressed the judges as well as the folks at Sharp Laboratories so much that they have come up with a prototype which has been named the Chop-Syc. But now that the prototype has been announced, the response, at least from Japanese Internet users, may not exactly be what the people at Sharp are hoping to hear.

▼ The concept that won the competition, the Chop-Syc, and the creator of the idea, Siobhán Andrews

Sharp board view

Sharp Siobhan Andrews

To begin with, a chopping board may not be something you would expect Sharp to produce. But this is no ordinary cutting board — it’s also an interactive high-tech appliance with W-Fi connection that functions much like a tablet device, complete with a built-in browser. Wait, it’s a tablet, but you can chop things on it?

Apparently, the answer is yes, according to the information that has been released regarding the prototype. The board, made from a special type of toughened scratch-resistant glass, has a digital touch-sensitive screen that uses the LCD technology Sharp is famous for.

▼ You can of course cut vegetables on the Chop-Syc — it is a chopping board, after all

Sharp cut tomato 2

▼ You can bring up recipes on the screen

Sharp recipe

▼ You can use it as digital scale …

Sharp scale

▼ … or as a calculator when you need to do any measurement conversions

Sharp calculator

▼ You can also do online shopping for ingredients!

Sharp online shopping screen

Managing Director of Sharp Laboratories of Europe, Ian Thompson, has commented that the Chop-Syc “solves a genuine human need to tackle the global issue of obesity through the integration of healthy recipes and portion sizes.” Well, that may be all well and good, but here are some of the comments that were posted on the Japanese Internet in response to Sharp’s announcement of the prototype:

– What’s wrong with having a tablet in front of you while using a regular chopping board?
– If you place ingredients on it to use it as a chopping board, you can’t see the screen!
– Didn’t anyone think it would be easier simply to bring in a tablet device into the kitchen?
– The technology is impressive, but somehow the idea doesn’t seem very smart.
– Okay, maybe you can cut on it, but can you really wash it?
– It’s going to be unsanitary if you can’t wash it thoroughly.
– Cutting meat or fish on it and getting the screen all oily just seems unclean.

So, Japanese Internet users appear to be less than impressed with the idea, and we’re afraid they may have a point when a regular tablet device brought into the kitchen would seem to serve practically the same function. (And yes, it would also be nice to know if you can really wash and scrub the device.)

It’s widely known that Sharp has been facing financial difficulties in recent years, so if the Chop-Syc is going to be made into an actual product, we certainly hope that the idea can be turned into something useful and beneficial for both the company and consumers. After all, we’d like to think that pursuing innovation to improve quality of life is always a worthwhile endeavor!

▼ By the way, if you’re interested, you can see more about how the Chop-Syc was developed in the video below:

Source: Humans InventSharp Europe Press ReleaseItai News (Japanese)
All Images: vimeo (Humans Invent with Sharp)