One of the quirkier innovations Gizmag has clapped eyes on at this year's CES, the HAPIfork is an electronic eating utensil that monitors the extent and rate of your eating. The HAPIfork was originally developed for clinical use to encourage slower eating, with the aim of combating weight gain from hurried eating that some research suggests doesn't give the body the time it needs to feel full from more moderate food intake. Additionally, HAPILABS claims that its HAPIfork will reduce digestive problems and gastric reflux associated with rapid ingestion.

In essence this is a fork with an engorged handle, containing a host of electronics, including a Micro US connector, capacitive detection, a vibration pack, two LEDs, all of which are powered by a 3.7 V lithium polymer battery. Together these make a fork that times not only how long it takes you to eat a meal, and, by knowing when the fork is lifted to the mouth, the rate at which food is eaten. Apparently an LED will blink at you disparagingly if the HAPIfork thinks you're eating too fast.

Soup eaters take note: when demonstrated at CES, Gizmag saw the HAPIfork also fitted with a spoon attachment, so upon its release the HAPIfork my prove more versatile than the name implies.

The HAPIfork will also talk to the HAPILABS Suite, an online dashboard and mobile app that logs data pertaining to meals, sleep and exercise and reports data over time in the form of stats and graphs. Apparently one call also share "HAPImoments," or pictures and videos to you and me, bringing social networking features to the Suite (albeit with an awful awful awful name).

While I quite like the idea of a "smart fork" that can quietly monitor my eating habits and, through accompanying software, show my data in, er, easy to digest form, I'm less keen on the idea of uppity cutlery telling me what to do. The benefits of eating slower won't be news to anyone that keeps an eye on the health and science press, or to anyone that has tried it for themselves. Having an LED indicator flash at you to tell you to slow down suggests this device could actually reinforce mentally-disengaged, eating in front of the TV, say. But perhaps I'm a luddite uncomfortable with outsourcing self-restraint to a piece of garish plastic (though the black and white options are fine, in fairness).

The Verge reports that a USB version of the HAPIfork will launch in Q2 of this year for US$99.99. A Bluetooth-equipped edition which can be paired with a mobile device is apparently set for Q3.

Sources: HAPILABS, The Verge