IDev | Speculative/Provotype Sketch

 The Speculative Idea

A consumer technology product that allows users to taste, smell, and feel authentic experiences of food without having any within their physical reach or immediate vicinity.

 How It Works 
 1. The Scenario 

Have you ever heard or said any of the following phrases in some form or another?

“OMG, I wish you were here to taste this meal, it is to die for!”
“I miss being away – if only I could smell mom’s cooking through FaceTime.”
“I want to know what that dessert tastes like but I don’t want the calories!”
“Having dietary restrictions suck! There’s so much I’d want to try!”

Sous Chip lets you do all of that and indulge in all your gastronomic desires now! This revolutionary taste technology transcending all previously unresolvable physical barriers by enabling you to enjoy all the pleasures of a culinary experience – the rich tastes, aromatic smells, and climactic textures – without having to actually having a plate of food in front of you.

 2. The User Journey Storyboard 

  • Users are termed Diners – Sharer (sender) and Sharee (recipient)
  • Diners place a bioabsorbable micro-electrical chip both on their tongue and nose
      • The bioabsorbable micro-electrical chip has a lifespan of 20 minutes – the average duration of a meal from start to completion
      • After 20 minutes, the chip is absorbed by the body and will require a new one for future experiences
  • Sharers input data by eating and smelling the food, as per normal dining
      • Sensors in the bioabsorbable chip of the Sharer pick up the chemical composition of aroma, taste, and texture of the food item
      • Data is encoded and sent to Sharee’s bioabsorbable chip
  • Sharee shares the dining experience by tasting, smelling, and feeling textures of the same food item
      • Data is decoded and translated into electrical currents that pulse through tongue and nose muscle receptors to activate corresponding stimulations

Case Study Analysis of DOW Senses: Digital Taste Interface 

 1. Limitations 

  • Sample size of participants was relatively small.
  • Sample size of taste stimuli was minimal, only 3 types (sour, spicy, minty)

 2. Opportunities 

  • The creators have expanded into thinking of Digital Food Ingredients – relying on multimodalities of eating physical food and tasting virtual flavours

 3. Personal Takeaways 

  • Smell has been verified to be an important factor in longevity, accuracy, strength of taste sensation
  • Consider what is pertinent to the activity of ‘eating’? Would it suffice just seeing the physical food? Or tasting the textures of the food? Tasting the flavours of the food?

 4. Alternative Perspectives 

  • From the Case Study analysis, instead of having manual user input of a pre-determined set of flavours and smells, why not do it in real-time with actual subjects of stimulations? Inspired by Stelarc’s Ear on Arm: instead of pre-recording tracks, auditory input is raw in real-time.

 Further Research 

 Future Developments of this Speculative Idea 

The future of this piece can either be developed to generate food-related solutions and experiences, or be expanded to include all senses to take human race onto the next existential and experiential plane of what it means and what is meaningless to be human.

Deviating from the inspired DOW’s creators, I foresee future developments for this Speculative piece to return to the essence of a distant body.

Sous Chip affects ethereal senses of taste and smell, how about touch next? Imagine being able to feel the precise body warmth, familiar deep touch pressure, characteristic loving movement of a loved one far away. How far would our learned and accepted realities bend? What would it mean for the current veracity of reality and truth that physicality and tangibility provide? Sous Chip achieves what a speculative piece should – to ignite the very questions of where design of future technologies and products can and cannot take us.

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