I recently took part in an international event based on the theme of food. It became an opportunity for me to think about the future of food, so I'd like to talk about that this time.
The event was the International Future Technologies Forum “ACT (Arts & Creative Technology) Festival 2019”, held in Gwangju, a city in southwestern South Korea. The theme of this year’s festival was “FoodHack”, and various exhibitions and performances relating to the concept of “new food of today and the future” were held.
Knowledge Capital, at the invitation of the international partner Asia Culture Institute, a South Korean quasi-governmental organization, recommended two groups for high-technology booth exhibitions, and they were able to perform their exhibitions. These two groups were particularly well received among the numerous exhibitors at the festival.
The first exhibit was a work by the Air Floating Media titled “Future food experiences using augmented reality: Under the Sea”. The scenery of a meal under the sea is reproduced using AR (augmented reality) technology. Images of jellyfish and clione can be seen floating on your real cups and plates, turning your dinner table into a scene that is both beautiful and adorable! This work uses a type of "representation media" in which the image floats in the air called Air Floating Media that can be seen with the naked eye without the need for goggles or other devices.
“Future food experiences using augmented reality: Under the Sea”
The creator of the work, Osaka University of Arts visiting Professor Noriyuki Juni, wanted to show meals of the future as not "food to live" but instead as "food to enjoy". Technologically speaking, it was possible to display dietary information such as the caloric value or amount of sodium in the food with the Air Floating Media, but that's no fun, so the idea was put forth to turn your eating space and experience into something fun by incorporating your favorite characters and contents. It sure would be fun to have a meal in a space like this! I tried it out myself, and it made me feel like I was a mermaid for a while.
The second exhibit was "Sonic Taste", created by Hirose Kuzuoka Narumi Lab. Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo. In this exhibition you can experience the research project of Associate Professor Takuji Narumi from the lab and Assistant Professor Felipe Reinoso Carvalho from Universidad de los Andes in Colombia.
The research is about how sound can affect your taste experience. The exhibit consisted of a booth in which you eat chocolate while listening to music, and you can experience how the taste changes according to the characteristics of the music. Apparently just listening to certain music can make even low-priced chocolate taste like a far more expensive and high-quality brand. These music affect how sweetness and bitterness are perceived, so for someone like me who loves sweets, if this research progresses further, perhaps I could have a snack with just a slight bit of sugar in it, but with the right music it would taste sweet enough to me. Maybe something like this could be useful for dieting.
“Sonic Taste” experience booth
Our living environment is ever changing as technology advances, but taking part in this forum and trying out all the different exhibits got me thinking: Could it be that food itself hasn't really advanced that much? Of course, the kinds of food we have available to choose has increased, and we now live in an environment we can eat something pretty much whenever we want with little effort involved. However, we have not, for example, digitized nutrition intake or made it so that our bodies don't require food (robots?), so things haven't really changed dramatically. That said, the idea a future where we get nutrition only from supplements or intravenously doesn't sound very appealing.
In the future, what kind of meals do you want to experience?
The talk program portion and other events of the ACT Festival 2019 ran from June 22 to June 28, so it's already finished, but the exhibition will continue until Sunday, August 4, 2019. It's being held at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, South Korea. Please go and experience it for yourself!