Skip to main content

Thai robot can ‘taste’ if food is authentic or not

With restaurants and recipes increasingly adopting a more global approach, it can be difficult to define an authentic national dish.

That is, unless you're a member of Thailand's Thai Delicious organisation, which has developed a robot capable of "tasting" food and determining its authenticity.

Read more: IBM Watson vs Food: Supercomputer takes to the food truck for its latest cognitive computing challenge (opens in new tab)

Named "e-Delicious" the robot was initially inspired by Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, after she experienced some unsatisfactory attempts at Thai cuisine during her travels.

The machine comes equipped with 10 sensors which analyse a dish's taste and smell and then compare it against a government-approved grade for a dish of the same name. Anything that fails to achieve a score of 80 or above is considered a below-standard attempt.

The government's National Innovation Agency has spent approximately one-third of its 30 million baht (£570,000) budget on the project, including roughly £62,000 alone to develop the e-Delicious machine.

While the machine has only been produced in limited numbers, Nakah Thawichawatt, a Thai businessman, wants to commercialise it. He ultimately plans to sell the device to Thai Embassies in countries with lots of Thai restaurants for $18,000 (£11,000) each.

Thai Delicious has also developed a free app as part of the programme, which provides authentic recipes approved by the government. So far, the committee has endorsed 10 recipes, three of which have been published via the app.

However, the New York Times (opens in new tab) claims that some of Thailand's street vendors have questioned the notion of using a robot to test food. Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana has been cooking since the age of 10 and said that even the slightest variation of ingredients can affect the taste of a dish.

Read more: Chinese firm dishes up smart chopsticks to test food safety (opens in new tab)

"I use my tongue to test if it's delicious or not," he said. "I think the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity."

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.