A team made led by City University London’s Mixed Reality Lab and other university academics are finalists in the HackingBullipedia Global Challenge, aimed at discovering the most inventive design and technology to support the world’s largest repository of gastronomic knowledge.
A combined team comprising academics from City University London’s Mixed Reality Lab, University of Aix-Marseille (France) and Sogang University (South Korea) has made the final of this year’s HackingBullipedia Global Challenge aimed at discovering the most inventive design and technology to support the world’s largest repository of gastronomic knowledge.
Led by Professor Adrian Cheok, Professor of Pervasive Computing in the School of Informatics, their competition entry is titled “Digital Olfaction and Gustation: A Novel Input and Output Method for Bullipedia”.
The team proposes novel methods of digital olfaction and gustation as input and output for internet interaction, specifically for creating and experiencing the digital representation of food, cooking and recipes on the Bullipedia. Other team members include Jordan Tewell, Olivier Oullier and Yongsoon Choi.
No stranger to digital olfaction applications in the culinary space, Professor Cheok recently gave a Digital Taste and Smell presentation to the third top chef in the world, Chef Andoni Luiz Aduriz, at Mugaritz restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain.
The HackingBullipedia Global Challenge was created by the renowned world leading culinary expert, Chef Ferran Adria I Acosta.
The jury, comprising some of the best culinary and digital technology experts in the world arrived at a shortlist of four teams after carefully sifting through 30 proposals from three continents drawn from a mix of independent and university teams.
The other teams in the final are from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona); the Technical University of Catalonia; and an independent (non university) team from Madrid.
On the 27th of November, two representatives from each of the four finalist teams will pitch their proposal and give a demonstration to the competition’s judges after which the winner will be decided.
Professor Cheok is very pleased that City will be in the final of the competition final:
“I am quite delighted that we were able to make the final of this very challenging and prestigious competition. There were entries from various parts of the world covering a broad spectrum of expertise including a multidisciplinary field of scientists, chefs, designers, culinary professionals, data visualisation experts and artists. We are confident that our team has prepared an equally challenging and creative proposal which will be a game-changer in the gastronomic arena.”
By Gian Volpicelli
Interview article from Motherboard:
Adrian Cheok, professor of pervasive computing at City University London and director of the Mixed Reality Lab at the National University of Singapore, is on a mission to transform cyberspace into a multi-sensory world. He wants to tear through the audiovisual paradigm of the internet by developing devices able to transmit smells, tastes, and tactile sensations over the web.
Lying on the desk in Cheok’s lab is one of his inventions: a device that connects to a smartphone and shoots out a given person’s scent when they send you a message or post on your Facebook wall. Then there’s a plexiglass cubic box you can stick your tongue in to taste internet-delivered flavours. Finally, a small plastic and silicone gadget with a pressure sensor and a moveable peg in the middle. It’s a long-distance-kissing machine: You make out with it, and your tongue and lip movements travel over the internet to your partner’s identical device—and vice versa.
“It’s still a prototype but we’ll be able to tweak it and make it transmit a person’s odour, and create the feeling of human body temperature coming from it,” Cheok says, grinning as he points at the twin make-out machines. Just about the only thing Cheok’s device can’t do is ooze digital saliva.
I caught up with Cheok to find out more about his work toward a “multi-sensory internet.”
Motherboard: Can you tell us a bit more about what you’re doing here, and what this multi-sensory internet is all about?
There is a problem with the current internet technology. The problem is that, online, everything is audiovisual and behind a screen. Even when you interact with your touchscreen, you’re still touching a piece of glass. It’s like being behind a window all the time. Also, on the internet you can’t use all your senses—touch, smell and taste—like you do in the physical world.
Here we are working on new technologies that will allow people to use all their senses while communicating through the Internet. You’ve already seen the kissing machine, and the device that sends smell-messages to your smartphone. We’ve also created devices to hug people via the web: You squeeze a doll and somebody wearing a particular bodysuit feels your hug on their body.
What about tastes and smells? How complex are the scents you can convey through your devices?
We’re still at an early stage, so right now each device can just spray one simple aroma contained in a cartridge. But our long-term goal is acting directly on the brain to produce more elaborated perceptions.
What do you mean?
We want to transmit smells without using any chemical, so what we’re going to do is use magnetic coils to stimulate the olfactory bulb [part of the brain associated with smell]. At first, our plan was to insert them through the skull, but unfortunately the olfactory part of the brain is at the bottom, and doing deep-brain stimulation is very difficult.
And having that stuff going on in your brain is quite dangerous, I suppose.
Not much—magnetic fields are very safe. Anyway, our present idea is to place the coils at the back of your mouth. There is a bone there called the palatine bone, which is very close to the region of your brain that makes you perceive smells and tastes. In that way we’ll be able to make you feel them just by means of magnetic actuation.
But why should we send smells and tastes to each other in first place?
For example, somebody may want to send you a sweet or a bitter message to tell you how they’re feeling. Smell and taste are strongly linked with emotions and memories, so a certain smell can affect your mood; that’s a totally new way of communicating. Another use is commercial. We are working with the fourth best restaurant in the world, in Spain, to make a device people can use to smell the menu through their phones.
Can you do the same thing also when it comes to tactile sensations? I mean, can you put something in my brain to make me feel hugged?
It is possible, and there are scientists in Japan who are trying to do that. But the problem with that is that, for the brain, the boundary between touch and pain is very thin. So, if you perform such stimulation you may very easily trigger pain.
It looks like you’re particularly interested in cuddling distant people. When I used to live in Rome, I once had a relationship with a girl living in Turin and it sucked because, well, you can’t make out online. Did you start your research because of a similar episode?
Well, I have always been away from my loved ones. I was born in Australia, but I moved to Japan when I was very young, and I have relatives living in Greece and Malaysia. So maybe my motivation has been my desire to feel closer to my family, rather than to a girl. But of course I know that the internet has globalized our personal networks, so more and more people have long-distance relationships. And, even if we have internet communications, the issue of physical presence is very relevant for distant lovers. That’s why we need to change the internet itself.
So far you have worked on a long-distance-hugging device and a long-distance-kissing machine. We also have gadgets that can transmit a person’s body odour. If I connect the dots, the next step will be a device for long-distance sex.
Actually, I am currently doing some research about that. You see, the internet has produced a lot of lonely people, who only interact with each other online. Therefore, we need to create technologies that bring people physically—and sexually—together again. Then, there’s another aspect of the issue…
As you noticed, if you put all my devices together, what you’re going to have soon are sorts of “multi-sensory robots”. And I think that, within our lifetime, humans will be able to fall in love with robots and, yeah, even have sex with them.
It seems to me all the work you’re doing here may be very attractive for the internet pornography business.
Of course, one of the big industries that could be interested in our prototypes is the internet sex industry. And, frankly speaking, that being a way of bringing happiness, I think there’s nothing wrong with that. Sex is part of people’s lives. In addition, very often the sex industry has helped to spur technology.
But so far I haven’t been contacted by anybody from that sector. Apparently, there’s quite a big gap between people working in porn and academia.
By Gian Volpicelli
26 November 2013
Event time: 6:00 – 7:20pm
Drinks reception: 7:20pm – 8:00pm
Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle, London NW1 4QP
Organised by The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese FoundationBooking Form
Multisensory Internet Communication and Virtual Love
The era of hyperconnected internet allows for new embodied interaction between humans, animals and computers, leading to new forms of social and physical expression. The technologies being developed will in the future augment or mix the real world together with the virtual world. Humans will be able to experience new types of communication environments using all of the senses, where we can see virtual objects in the real environment, virtually touch someone from a distance away, and smell and taste virtual food. Our physical world will be augmented with sensors connected to the internet, buildings and physical spaces, cars, clothes and even our bodies. During the seminar, we will discuss some different research prototype systems for interactive communication, culture, and play. This merging of computing with the physical world may lead to us developing personal feelings for computers, machines and robots, which we will discuss in the second part of the seminar. In the second part, we will be inviting the audience to join us in an exploration of the limits of artificial intelligence. What will it mean for society when artificial intelligence researchers succeed in creating sophisticated artificial personalities, artificial emotions and artificial consciousness? When robots are also endowed with the ability to recognize what we say and what we mean, will they be able to carry on interesting, amusing, intelligent and friendly, even loving conversations with us? How will humans react to this new breed of “person” that can say “I love you” and mean it? These are some of the questions that will touch on the possibility of love, sex and marriage with robots.
About the contributors
Keynote speech at VS-Games 2013
September 11-13, 2013. Bournemouth University, UK.
Keynote Title: Multisensory Feeling Communication in the Hyperconnected Era
Abstract: This talk outlines new facilities that are arising in the hyperconnected internet era within human media spaces. This allows new embodied interaction between humans, species, and computation both socially and physically, with the aim of novel interactive communication and entertainment. Humans can develop new types of communication environments using all the senses, including touch, taste, and smell, which can increase support for multi-person multi-modal interaction and remote presence. In this talk, we present an alternative ubiquitous computing environment and space based on an integrated design of real and virtual worlds. We discuss some different research prototype systems for interactive communication, culture, and play.
Keynote speech at International Conference On Informatics and Creative Multimedia 2013 (ICICM’13).
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. September 3-6, 2013.
Keynote Title: Multisensory Human Communication in the Hyperconnected Era
This talk outlines new facilities that are arising in the hyperconnected internet era within human media spaces. This allows new embodied interaction between humans, species, and computation both socially and physically, with the aim of novel interactive communication and entertainment. Humans can develop new types of communication environments using all the senses, including touch, taste, and smell, which can increase support for multi-person multi-modal interaction and remote presence. In this talk, we present an alternative ubiquitous computing environment and space based on an integrated design of real and virtual worlds. We discuss some different research prototype systems for interactive communication, culture, and play.
Meeting and Presentation of Digital Taste and Smell to Andoni Luis Aduriz, Number 3 chef in the world at Mugaritz the number 4 restaurant in the world with Luis Castellanos CEO of Jardin de Junio http://www.eljardindejunio.com
I had the great pleasure to be invited to a meeting with Andoni Luis Aduriz, Number 3 chef in the world and Luis Castellanos CEO of Jardin de Junio. They wanted me to present our work in digital augmented taste and smell.
The restaurant is in a beautiful mountainous area around San Sebastián. At first we had lunch and discussions together. The lunch was simple yet so delicious. Tomato with olive oil and salt, baby lettuce, and lamb chops. I didn’t realize the lettuce was a sneak preview of the incredible dinner.
Next I gave a presentation on our research on multi-sensory mixed reality and I gave some demonstrations, such as the electric taste machine. I was really happy and excited that Chef Andoni was pleased and wants to work together on a project.
Next we watched a piano concert at the restaurant, and at next the most amazing dinner of my life. Andoni gave us a tour of the kitchens. It was incredible to see more than 70 staff prepare the dishes for only a small group of patrons, maybe 40 or 50. Each table at the dinner is given different dishes, to suit the mood and personality of the patrons. It is an individualized feast.
There were more than 20 courses at the dinner. It was an explosion of amazing tastes, textures, visions. The dishes were an incredible combination of traditional and modernist / molecular cuisine. For example what I thought were noodles were made from some kind of beef marrow. What looked like a chocolate sweet was made from duck’s blood. At first my brain forced me to think it was chocolate, because of the visual dominance, and next I could taste savory.
The whole dinner went on for hours and hours, accompanied by incredible local wines also. At the end of the night we were saturated and exhausted. It was one of the most incredible times of my life.