By Brendan I. Koerner
Fuzzy logic is one of those high-falutin' concepts that I realize I'm too dim to fully comprehend. I mean, okay, I get the part about partial truths between yes and no, or one and zero. Just don't ask me to get up in front of a group of inquisitive eight-year-olds and explain fuzzy logic's finer points; I'd be exposed as a fraud within minutes.
Leave it to The Man to exploit my ignorance by turning "fuzzy logic" into a marketing catchphrase, one designed to gussy up the humble rice cooker. Exhibit A in this trend is this $200 unit from Zojirushi, alluringly called the Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer. Laden with microprocessors that (per the hype sheet) "allow the rice cooker to 'think' for itself," the Zojirushi surely makes a mean bowl o' unadorned starch. But twenty times better than the rice I prepare in my beloved $10 Chinatown special? Really?
What we've got here is a textbook marketing play: using lingo that the public recognizes, but doesn't really grok, in order to rescue a product category from value-store Purgatory. A dissection after the jump, as well as a (somewhat) spirited defense of the humble $10 rice cooker. PLUS: Who knew Gadget Grips had so many fans?
Some of you with eagle-grade eyes will recall that this isn't the first time that Gizmodo has tackled the topic of rice cookers; we linked to a Wired test last month, in a post that attracted some unusually impassioned comments (including the semi-tasteful chides of some Asian readers who questioned Wired's decision to have a white reporter tackle the assignment). Most notable among the responses, however, was this one from "flipped4gizmos":