New Device Combines The SensesAn interesting new concept translates your brain’s reactions into visual artwork. It’s an artificial drinking apparatus that measures your brain’s reactions after you sip a cocktail.
Marcos Lutyens, an artist with an interest in psychology, is working with Absolut Vodka to bring more sensory experience to drinking. Lutyens has a fascination with synesthesia; making people experience multiple sense stimulation from an experience that would normally only stimulate one sense. The project is expected to debut at the FutureEverything festival in Manchester, England.
The invention has been dubbed the FlavorCollider. Seemingly only a neat trick to be utilized at cocktail parties, it’s actually a complex invention that utilized a ton of science and mathematical theory in its conception. A previous invention by Roy Williams, Xmorphia, served as the algorithmic basis for this project.
Lutyens goes on to explain the complexity behind his project, “I’m more like a kind of orchestra conductor. It’s very multidisciplinary, as we’re mixing brain waves with taste with visuals, and bringing them together is where my work sits. What I do like about the visuals is that they emerge mostly out of these algorithms, these equations which allow signals from our brain to create self-generative art.”
How It Works?Volunteers willing to test out the invention wear a Neurosky MindWave headset, while drinking an especially flavorful cocktail. The drinkers’ brain signals are then received by the headset and translated into visual images on surrounding monitors.
Lutyens is particularly excited about the experience that users will have: “It’s going to be a relatively quick process, but it will allow people to watch how their subconscious minds react to taste,” he says. The created images are in part because of Lutyens’ work and also due to the efforts of the “Xname” coding team. In preparation for the creations, Lutyens asked volunteer cocktail drinkers to describe the shape, texture, etc. that they felt on their taste buds.
Surprisingly, many participants’ reactions were similar. This research helped Lutyens to collaborate these descriptions with the images that he wished to create. Lutyens utilized a complex algorithm to sort the headset signals into meditation or attention signals.
Lutyens explains the rationale behind each signal, “The meditation signals are less dense and move slower, and the attention ones move faster and are more closely packed.” Part of the visual effect can be attributed to the Bouba/Kiki effect, discovered by Wolfgang Kohler. This phenomenon explained the brain’s connection to physical geometry and linguistics.
It seems as though color association was the most difficult thing for the team to process; “It’s a difficult one because although the cocktail comes with a color, that isn’t necessarily the color of the taste it may have. Red, for example, is often associated with strawberry but also with chili. Color become less important to decipher a flavor than form, and the density of patterns and speed of movement when it came to writing the code,” says Lutyens.
The images do vary with certain factors such as: current brain activity and quantity of alcoholic beverages consumed. Lutyens is just appreciative of the artistic effect behind it and how he’s been able to “build up a kind of relationship between these parameters and the taste sensations.”