Magic Tablecloth

Pears on a tablecloth

Move over, Gordon Ramsey! We’ve got mealtime covered!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Choosing what to make for dinner can be a Kitchen Nightmare! But what if someone – or some-THING –made the decision for you?

Te-Yen Wu and colleagues at Dartmouth University have made mealtime a breeze with their “smart tablecloth.” It’s called Capacitivo.

All objects cause a unique shift in electrical charge – even food! Capacitivo’s special fabric uses electricity to determine what’s placed on it. It then reads it to a computer, which translates the signal, identifies the food, and suggests a recipe. The researchers tested Capacitivo on twenty different objects, including kiwi, cheese, and a jug of milk!

Results? Wu’s design can read what’s on the table with ninety-five percent accuracy! It can even I.D. food and liquids in containers. Just toss your ingredients on the tablecloth and Capacitivo decides what’s for dinner!

So…what’s in the fridge? Kiwi….cheese….milk…not sure what you’d make with that, but cooking now. . . literally. . . is a science!

Wu, T.-Y., Tan, L., Zhang, Y., Seyed, T., Yang, X.-D. Capacitivo: Contact-Based Object Recognition on Interactive Fabrics using Capacitive Sensing. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST ‘20). (2020).