Home The Internet of Sushi

The Internet of Sushi

Kaiten-zushi or “conveyor belt” sushi is not new. It was developed in Japan in 1958. But over the past couple of years, the addition of RFID chips has raised the process of snatching a tuna roll off a rubber strip to space-age bachelor-pad heights.

The use of microchips in the kaiten process can be sorted into four types of use by function: information, inventory control, delivery and billing.

A good example of the first comes from, of all places, Costa Rica. In 2008 in the city of San Pedro the restaurant Iwaa started using chips to make the experience more information-rich.

“(E)ach plate’s cover also contains a microchip. As the plate approaches your table on the conveyor belt, the computer screen at your table, thanks to the frequency from the chip, displays a photo of the sushi that’s on its way, as well as its name and ingredients – great for people with food allergies, or just picky eaters.”

Using chips to keep the rolls fresh was implemented by Hawaii’s Hanakai Sushi.

“Hanakai utilizes a sophisticated scanning system and high-tech dishes embedded with a time-sensitive microchip that automatically removes plates from the conveyor belt at regular intervals.”

A real estate agent friend recounted his experience at a kaiten-zushi restaurant near Osaka. Upon ordering, via the seat-side console, your fifth piece of sushi, a game launches. If you win, you get your sixth piece for free.

Danny Choo, a U.K. expatriate living and working in Tokyo published a photo essay on sushi in his adopted hometown. One of the restaurants he visited uses RFID for billing.

“Many kaiten sushi places will count how many dishes you have had and work out the cost from the different colors of the dishes. This place however has some sort of micro chip in the plates. The lady comes along with her scanner and places it near the dishes. The total cost is calculated immediately and a receipt automatically comes of a small printer thingy attached to her belt.”

What is the future of the Internet of Sushi? Doll-like robots that can crush your bones in their merciless pinchers while scanning your Implant and then disgorging the appropriate roll from built-in sushi plants in their leathery thoraxes before you are even conscious you desired it? Probably.

Top photo by Grendel Khan

Bottom photo by Joi Ito

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