Researchers at Japan's Ochanomizu University have developed a musical fork whose sound varies depending on the resistance of the food you are eating. Called EaTheremin, the fork relies on the body's ability to conduct electricity (particularly the moist interior of the mouth) and thus form a circuit.
As the demonstration above shows, not only do different foods create different sounds for different eaters, based on their varying ratios of fat and water, flexible or multi-textured foods like fried chicken skin "can create a vibrato effect."
According to one of EaTheremin's developers, Reina Nakamori, the research team is now experimenting with musical spoons. Their hope is that "because this creates a good rhythm, people will want to eat more or try eating foods they didn't really like before."
Although the sounds these forks produce are pretty irritating, there are a couple of things I like about this project. For starters, I'm always interested in design strategies that change our experience of food by foregrounding a particular and normally overlooked property. In this case, the fork makes audible the varied electrical resistances of sausage, cucumber, and chicken, which, in turn, are based on their chemical and physical compositions. In that sense, it gives you a new way of knowing what you're eating.
What's more, by producing a new sound from food, the forks can perhaps cue us to pay better attention to the sounds our foods already make. After all, you can tell a lot about the quality of your fried chicken just by the crackle (or lack thereof) of its skin.
And finally, there's something interesting about the symbolic act of putting food in your mouth to complete a circuit and produce a sound. Imagine an orchestral symphony of EaTheremin forks, in which the music somehow makes tangible that connection between food and flesh. It's a stretch, but perhaps musical forks could help us actually understood food to be part of our ourselves, on an emotional and visceral level—and that shift in perception would inevitably improve our eating habits and heighten our concern for how our food is made, with all the accompanying health and environmental benefits.
Story via Wired UK.