Playing With Food

In June 2012 I was awarded a BEAMS bursary on behalf of EPSRC to research ways to digitally enhance food, with the UCL Interaction Centre (UCLIC).  I was supervised by Prof Yvonne Rogers (UCL), Dr Paul Marshall (UCL), and worked in collaboration with Kenton O’Hara (Microsoft Research).

The aim of the project was to look at how technology would enhance the eating experience for adults and children.  This includes technologies which may interact directly with the food, or technologies which may respond directly with user interactions to the food.

Below you can view various stop motion and flash animations based on a wizard of oz approach, which illustrates some of the ideas considered in realising such a technology.

Little Fish and Monkey

The Little Fish and Monkey are two stop motion animations which show a character interacting with food on a plate, by navigating around or over the meal.  The idea to use characters was drawn from the bento boxes designed by Japanese parents, where food presentation is taken seriously.   Moreover, the use of cute, relatable characters, has made the lunch time experience more fun for the children.

1 2 3

In many top restaurants it may be difficult to know where to begin or how to eat your food to enjoy the exquisite taste as intended by the chef.  The use of numbers on your food can suggest an order in which to do this, and once you have finished one part of the meal, the next number appears!

Play A Game

Children love playing games, and if you can build this into meal times, that’s an added bonus for them and the parent!  The video below shows an interactive animation which gives instructions to the child on how to eat their meal, winning rewards if they follow instructions and meet all the targets.  As a result, the parent doesn’t have to think of creative ways to get their child to eat their food, and mealtimes are left to the game!