​Analogue Living

Living packaging lets consumers pick fresh fruit at home

Nurture is food packaging that incorporates the living roots of fruit and vegetables to allow them to continue ripening until they’re ready to eat.

t’s rare that the fruit and veg bought at the local supermarket is truly fresh. There’s a long journey — through picking, transporting, sorting, artifical ripening, checking, packaging and storing — that each item can go through before it arrives on the shelves. It’s a far stretch from the most nutritious form of consuming fruit and veg, which is to wait until it’s fully ripe before picking and eating. For those who can’t enjoy such pleasure, Nurture is food packaging that incorporates the living roots of fruit and vegetables to allow them to continue ripening until they’re ready to eat.

Created by UK design graduate Hyunhee Hwang, the packaging takes the form of a bowl made of organic material, that’s woven with the roots of plants bearing fruits such as tomatoes, cherries or figs. By keeping the bowl moist, the plants can continue to live even while they’re being transported. Although part of a Masters degree project at the University of Arts London, Hwang envisions a weekly delivery that sends the living fruits directly from growers to the customer’s home. The packaging includes extra tools and equipment, such as a holder for the basket, a spritzer for watering the fruits, and forceps and scissors for ‘harvesting’ that apparently prevent nutrition loss while collecting the fruit. 

With consumers always looking for more authentic produce — whether organic or freshly picked — Nurture packaging goes one step further to connect city dwellers with fruit fresh from the vine. Are there other ways to deliver food straight from the farm to the table?


In-ear nutritionist tells diners when they’re eating too fast

There are already a slew of smart fitness trackers and daily diet log apps that help anyone keep track of what they’re eating. There are even devices such as the Prep Pad, which can detect the food placed upon it and deliver nutritional information. Currently seeking funding through Indiegogo, Bitbite is an in-ear tracker that’s able to quantify eating behaviors — down to chewing speed — and offer health recommendations.

Worn in the ear much like a wireless earbud, the small device features an array of sensors that can detect both sound and motion. When the user eats, Bitbite tracks the time of eating, how fast they’re chewing, and even they type of food they’re eating based on noises they make. Alternatively, diners can simply say the name of the food they’re eating to log it. BitBite then offers real-time audio advice to help users improve their health, such as slow down, chew more or eat less or more regularly. All of the data is also available through the BitBite app, which displays calorie intake and eating habits over time. 

Watch the video below to learn more about the device:

BitBite tracks metrics that diners don’t always take into account when trying to lose weight. Backers can pre-order BitBite from USD 119 through the Indiegogo campaign, which ends on 11 November. With the fitness tech market quickly becoming saturated, are there ways to combine all of these existing features into a single platform?


AI restaurant guide makes friendly recommendations

Finding a new place to eat with a friend or that special someone often requires a trawl throughGoogle search results or Yelp reviews, but they're not very good at knowing the types of restaurants you already like. Adding a touch of natural language recognition and artificial intelligence, Russia's IO is an app that learns users' preferences and chats with them to help them find restaurants nearby. Users simply start by typing questions into IO, without having to fill out any preferences up front. IO will then begin to reply with an easy-to-understand answer in a friendly tone. Users can type as if they were speaking to a friend over text and IO will understand what they're saying. When recommending a restaurant, the app brings up all of the relevent details -- location, description, menu, prices, opening times and contact details. Users can also ask what's good on the menu, what the atmosphere's like and if it's good for a date, along with other questions they might have. For each response, users can let IO know if they think it looks good, if they want to know more info or a different suggestion. This way, the app learns their preferences and can make better recommendations in the future. The more they use it, the smarter it becomes. Over time, users can save information about their favorite restaurants to create their own unique collection.

Recently launched in New York City and with plans to expand to major European cities, IO is part of a trend for presenting data in a more friendly way using AI and machine learning, and at times it feels close to the vision of the future presented in Spike Jonze's Her. Are there other ways to make tech user interfaces feel less like working with a computer and more like speaking with a human?

Why I have a 'Goldfish like' attention span

Jip, guilty as charged ! When I look around distraction is everywhere, but take a step back, why would you look around in the first place, what could be possibly be more interest...PING! MESSAGE? MAIL? Facebook !? Or did you notice that I made the word "everywhere" clickable and were tempted? Well people, those things are called distractions and some are more powerful than others. In science terms they call it "Supernormal stimuli". It's your brain reacting from primal hard wired instinct. It happens to me all the time and don't be afraid you're likely to do it too.  Stuart Mcmillen has this explained fairly easily in a short but stunning comic.

 Stuart Mcmillen - A reptile brain sits deep within us. How much behavior comes from primal instinct? 

 Stuart Mcmillen - A reptile brain sits deep within us. How much behavior comes from primal instinct? 

Nikolaas Tinbergen a nobel prize winning ethologist is an expert on supernormal stimuli. He conducted experimental research on the instinct and behavior of animals. He concluded in several cases that the 'Artificial stimuli' were stronger than the original instinct. In laymen term they'd prefer the fake over the real thing. Tinsbergen did this by exaggerating special aspects and making them more pronounced. Here are a couple examples :

  • He constructed plaster eggs to see which one a bird preferred to sit on, finding that they would select those that were larger, had more defined markings, or more saturated color—a dayglo-bright egg with black polka dots would be selected over the bird's own pale, dappled eggs.
  • He found that territorial male stickleback fish would attack a wooden fish model more vigorously than a real male if its underside was redder.
  • He constructed cardboard dummy butterflies with more defined markings that male butterflies would try to mate with in preference to real females.

Oh No, it's in my DNA ! Well your brain actually, it's this ancient lizard part within where primal thinking takes over rational thought. This is where several things become questionable or at least interesting looking at the amazing speed of improving technology, can our brains keep up?

There are multiple examples of supernormal stimuli, a really relevant one in today's society is Food. Looking for example at Obesitas ratings in Mexico, The United States and the UK. Their appetite didn't grow all of sudden they were just triggered more. In case of material wellbeing there is more fastfood available and sometimes even cheaper than the healthy substitute. Fast food is engineered to be more appealing and our primal instincts react. Knowing this information creates essential awareness and that doesn't mean abondoning all supernormal stimuli from your life, that would be impossible. But I do think that by knowing why and how your brain works in the case of temptation, gives freedom and creates better substantiated actions in your life which supports overall quality of life. So get focus back in your life by starting to thinking about how you think. Seems like a circle but sometimes it's in trying.

C.S. Lewis has some insightful thoughts on this:

Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.

After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.

A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.

 If you recognize feeling like an eight year old having severe ADHD while you are on the internet, be sure to check out the video below.

if you want to know more and are interested in the mechanics of your mental and physical wellbeing check out the following blogs, were these topics were originally posted, for more in-depth information. 

Lifehacker - Supernormal Stimuli: Your Brain On Porn, Junk Food, and the Internet

Stuart Mcmillen - Supernormal Stimuli Comic 

A book by Deirdre Barret - Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose