Slurping has become, whether desired or not, a standard part of eating instant noodles. But what if you could cover up those embarrassing and attention-grabbing dining sounds with your very own fork? Nissin, the Japanese company behind Cup Noodles, has developed a new product that will help you do just that.
This noise-canceling fork, called Otohiko, was developed with the expertise of sound artist Shinya Kiyokawa and offers users several ways of combatting their intense (and, to some, intensely annoying) noodle slurping. The fork is somewhat larger and heavier than your traditional piece of dining cutlery, but that’s due in part to the technology inside. The fork contains a microphone that can pick up sound—most specifically your noodle noises—and, connecting to your smartphone, beams out a signal. That signal then prompts your phone to play deceptive, canceling sounds, including a “whooshing” or xylophone sound.
So how does the fork know to cover up your slurping sounds instead of any little noise? In order to make sure the fork wasn’t responding to anything and everything, Nissin data-mined samples of slurping sounds. Those were then loaded into the Otohiko so the fork would know what to respond to.
When it comes to how the fork responds with camouflaging noises, the utensil uses technology from an unlikely source. The fork’s response tech is based on toilets—TOTO’s Otohime toilets to be exact. The Otohime system is known for generating sounds that mask your trips to the toilet. And although those sounds would seemingly give away that something is happening, they—like the noises of your Otohiko—are preferable to their counterparts.
If your slurping noises make you nervous about eating in front of others (or if someone else is tired of your slurping), the fork can be purchased for 14,800 yen or $130 starting today. But you’ll have to hurry as only 5,000 units are available during the first run, and pre-orders are only being accepted until December 15.