This story is a part of MOLD’s reader-submitted project series. Submit your projects here for consideration.
Playte explores the relationship between Human Food Interaction, physical computing and interface design. By using the action of eating, Playte responds to the diner through visual transformation, movement, scent, taste and more.
Images by Hunaid Nagaria and Vedika Lall.
Driven by curiosity and intuition, Hunaid Nagaria and Vedika Lall are interested in merging metaphor with behavioral sciences and everyday human practices. They aim to create meaningful products and experiences based on speculative thinking, with a special interest in exploring the creative intersection of technology and design thinking.
Their creation of playte investigates the emerging field of Human Food Interaction, which examines how people find joy and success in their food interactions. It is a confluence of Human Food Interaction, physical computing and ephemeral material interfaces. Consider a futuristic dinner where the diner’s actions result in more. It’s not just about knowing what you eat; it’s also about reimagining how you eat. This gizmo is a piece of celebratory technology that enhances the multi sensory experience of eating, allows for process personalization, and engages the diner in a variety of ways.
Meals have long served as a catalyst for social connection, cultural identity, history, enjoyment, and celebration. How can artifacts with a high degree of autonomy allow diners to make decisions and discover their positive interactions with food when eating and preparing meals? They should be encouraged to explore their futuristic experience using all of their senses through the interactive and immersive artifacts just like the Playte. Now is the time to imagine possible new food experiences at the nexus of humans, food innovation, and changing contexts using pragmatic, utopian, and speculative provocations as designers.
The surface of the plate is designed to resemble a topographical landscape, allowing the diner to easily navigate the dessert “Playte.” The Playte‘s food elements are precisely crafted, emulating futuristic technologies such as 3D printing sugar, laser cutting pastry, and edible praline gears to create a functioning food plate. While investigating how food and its components can be used to replicate the shape and function of actuators, speculative technologies of 3-D printed sugar structures, laser cut pastry and edible gears are emulated to make a functional dessert plate. To simulate movement on the playte, the designers created an inflatable raspberry-flavored bioplastic that was wrapped as petals and moved by a rack and pinion mechanism. As the caramel is placed in the shape of delicious yet functioning gear trains, the mechanics of sugar are investigated.
Five Jelly cubes line the LED-lit peripheral device and act as actuators for the interactions with the Playte. The personalisation across the playte begins once the diner starts picking up the jelly cubes to allow interactive play. The Playte imagines an action every time the diner takes up one jelly cube.
The input of picking up the jelly is translated into outputs that bridge the edible and digital domains, powered by Arduino and physical computing. Buzzers mapped to a capacitive aluminum plate mounted under the top of the gizmo, that give sound feedback. The Cotton Candy clad RGB LED also connected to the capacitive aluminum plate changes colors based on the motion of your hand. Another response results in a gingerbread tool spreading the whipped cream quenelle evenly over the playte. An olfactory experience, enabled by the piezo humidifier. The citrus flavored water is atomised to release the mist.
SHAPING THE FUTURE OF FOOD
What if your plate could became an interface? What if your plate was wired to respond to your intuition? What if your plate was engineered to do more? To respond to these inquiries, Playte is a passionate investigation into the use of speculative design in the creation of efficient and intuitive interactions.
ABOUT THE PROJECT TEAM
Playte is an investigation led by Hunaid Nagaria and Vedika Lall. Hunaid is a design engineer and an illustrator while Vedika Lall is a design researcher with a focus in social innovation. Together, they’ve displayed how to embody playful interactions to capture speculative concepts while integrating their shared passion for food. They are postgraduate students pursuing MA+M.Sc at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. As Innovation designers, they investigated the relationship between food and physical computing as the world progresses toward a more technologically advanced and functional future.