Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have developed pill-sized, ingestible sensors that can detect gas activity in the stomach, sending real-time data to an app.
According to co-inventor professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, the capsules provide a much more efficient and effective way to monitor gut activity than collecting faecal samples or performing invasive surgery. This could revolutionise the way gut disorders and diseases are diagnosed and treated.
During trials, the sensors detected what the inventors describe as "a new immune system". Kalantar-zadeh said: "We found that the stomach releases oxidising chemicals to break down and beat foreign compounds that are staying in the stomach for longer than usual. This could represent a gastric protection system against foreign bodies. Such an immune mechanism has never been reported before."
Gut health is high on the agenda for consumers, and this research and innovation represents a further push in the scientific realm for understanding in this area. For another example, see New Architecture of Taste, part of our latest Industry Trend The Future of Flavour.
French tech start-up Aveine has developed a digital, smartphone-connected wine aerator that instantly aerates the wine to the user's liking when poured from the bottle.
The spout, which fits over the top of the wine bottle, works by pushing a controlled amount of air through the wine as it's poured, regulating how much air touches the liquid's surface. This produces the same chemical reaction normally achieved by slowly decanting.
The aerator allows the consumer to select up to 24 hours of equivalent decanting time via a digital display, and shows the wine temperature. Consumers can also scan the wine label using a corresponding app to receive a suggested aeration time for the specific variety and vintage.
The Aveine Aerator will launch in March 2018 and cost $200.
It's the latest in a host of innovative product launches for enthusiastic but time-poor at-home foodies, as discussed in-depth in our report Activating At-Home Foodies – part of our Kitchen of the Future Industry Trend.
See also Fluid Flavours, Reframing Wine and Alcohol Trends 2017 for a wider look at developments shaping the beverage space, as well as Wine-Preserving Decanter and Letterbox-Friendly Wine Packaging for other recent innovations.
US start-up Uplift has launched an app that helps travellers alleviate jet lag naturally, according to the scientists behind the system.
Based on acupressure and neuroscience research, the app offers video tutorials showing users how to activate key points involved in setting the body's circadian rhythms. By performing a 10-minute series of exercises upon arrival, frequent travellers can hack their internal clock to remedy jet lag's draining effects.
An algorithm provides a customised wellness itinerary based on the user's points of origin and arrival, as well as their departure and arrival times. The app identifies two pressure points to press on either side of the body, with most spots located between the elbow and wrist or the knee and ankle. A timer ensures individuals perform the exercises for the correct duration.
Uplift's team of scientists and engineers trialled the service with over 600 frequent travellers, with 92% reporting that engaging acupressure points reduced or alleviated jet lag. An introductory video supplies a crash course on how to harness these pressure points, reducing human error.
The app requires an annual subscription of $9.99 to unlock unlimited access to personalised acupressure itineraries.
Researchers at the University of Singapore have developed the world's first alcoholic beverage made from tofu whey, a commonly wasted by-product from the tofu production process.
The drink, called sachi, is made by pasteurising whey liquid and adding sugar, acid and yeast before fermenting it for two weeks. The resulting alcoholic beverage contains an abundance of antioxidants called isoflavones and high levels of calcium, and claims to provide health benefits such as boosting bone and heart health.
Said to have a slightly sweet, floral flavour, sachi has an ABV of 8% and a shelf life of four months.
Professor Liu Shao-Quan and student Chua Jian-Yong were inspired to create the drink following a boom in tofu production in Asia as the vegetarian population on the continent grows. Liu said: "Alcoholic fermentation can serve as an alternative method to convert tofu whey into food products that can be consumed directly. Our unique fermentation technique also serves as a zero-waste solution to the serious issue of tofu whey disposal."
This is the latest example of how the food and beverage industry is tackling food waste in increasingly inventive ways. See New Food Covetables, Feeding Tomorrow's Consumers and Fluid Flavours, part of our latest Industry Trend The Future Of Flavour for more on this.
See also Alcohol's Healthy Future for how alcohol brands are reaching out to a growing breed of health-conscious consumers.
Japanese carmaker Nissan is opening a pop-up ryokan – a traditional Japanese guesthouse – which features autonomous self-parking furniture and accessories.
The ProPILOT Park Ryokan concept is designed to promote the company’s ProPILOT autonomous parking system, first unveiled in its Nissan LEAF hatchback in October 2017. The ryokan demonstrates this technology through slippers, tables and tatami floor cushions that autonomously self-tidy and return to a set home position at the push of a button.
In vehicles, the ProPILOT Park technology uses four high-resolution cameras and 12 sonar sensors to anticipate surrounding obstructions. At the ryokan, each smart object moves to its designated home position by communicating with ceiling cameras using image-processing technology. The slippers have small wheels pushed into the base of the shoe that cannot be felt when worn.
Ryokans are an icon of traditional Japanese culture. By appropriating this setting, Nissan hopes to illustrate the symbiosis of new technology in historical and existing landscapes, and encourage the public to feel more comfortable about autonomous driving.
ProPILOT Park Ryokan, located southwest of Tokyo, will be open for one night only on March 24 2018. Guests are being selected through a social media contest, and must use Twitter hashtags to apply for the experience.
For more on how companies are using branded spaces to become hospitality hosts in work and leisure settings, read Tomorrow’s Wandering Workers. For another example in how Nissan is using concept campaigns to exhibit innovation and creativity, read our blog post about the company’s sweat-sensitive car.
Latvian coffee-to-go start-up Coffee Pixels has developed a range of solid edible coffee bars that offer an alternative caffeine fix.
The bars are made using the entire coffee cherry, generating 80% less waste than is produced during the traditional picking and brewing process. See Trans-Industry Ingredients, part of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend, for more on product innovations that utilise coffee waste.
Coffee Pixels' resulting product is high in fibre and its caffeine content absorbs more slowly into the body, causing a slower release of energy over four hours, avoiding the spike and crash often associated with conventional coffee consumption.
Thanks to high levels of antioxidant-rich polyphenols and flavanols, other health benefits include improved brain performance, better digestion and a healthier gut microbiome. See New Architecture of Taste for more on microbiome-boosting product innovation.
The bars are available in two strengths that correspond to different coffee preferences: Cascara (for expresso fans) and Milk, for those who prefer a milder taste.
See also Smart Sustenance for further innovations in brain-boosting mood food.
Hotels, restaurants and travel brands are partnering with food and culture magazines to create compelling physical spaces that provide inspirational lifestyle ideas for curious consumers.
UK magazine Cereal has worked with American luggage brand Hartmann to develop a photo essay and short film of Hartmann luggage in-situ while travelling through cities like Copenhagen, Oslo and London. The partnership promoted the functionality of the luggage and its ability to project a chic jet-setting lifestyle.
Similarly, Danish magazine Kinfolk developed a food event series called Kinfolk Gatherings, hosted in cities such as London, New York and Berlin. The London-based meal, cooked by British chef Sam Hodges, included talks around 'slow living' by British textile designer Katherine May, Danish-English writer Louisa Thomsen Brits and Hodges himself.
These supper clubs represent Kinfolk's culture of community and ethical business practice. See Nightlife Eats for more on modern supper clubs.
Meanwhile, British food culture magazine At the Table created pop-up shops within London's Ham Yard Hotel and The Town Hall Hotel to conjure up an At the Table lifestyle experience, supporting artisan producers and celebrating British food. Products included Nina+Co crockery, Ren London linen and Newton & Pott preserves – all featured in the magazine.
For more on the art of cross-industry collaboration, see Brand Collaboration: What's Your Cultural Value? See also Brand Stretch for examples of brands extending beyond their traditional remits.
Similarly, see The New Lifestyle Hotel and The New Branded Hotel to unpack ways in which hotels are integrating themselves into social culture.
Aiming to help consumers reduce their food waste, Chicago-based start-up Ovie has developed LED tags that allow individuals to track how long food items have been in their fridge.
To activate the tags, which can be affixed to food items via a specially created strap, clip or storage container, users press a button on the device and tell Amazon Alexa what type of food they're storing.
An LED light on the tag then keeps users informed about how long the food has been in the fridge, with a green light indicating that the food is still good to eat, yellow meaning 'eat soon', and red showing that the food should no longer be consumed.
The storage system also comes with a corresponding app that lists foods currently being stored, as well as their levels of freshness. It can then make suggestions for food pairings based on this inventory – for example, 'lasagne and green beans'.
The company is also exploring partnership options with recipe apps, hoping to create a service that will suggest recipes based on fridge contents and then automatically order additional ingredients for home delivery.
The brand is launching a Kickstarter campaign at the end of February 2018 to fund the project. Three tags will retail for around $59, while three containers will cost $89.
For earlier developments in food classification, see New Directions in Food Labelling.
Japanese agricultural research company D&T Farm has developed a new banana variety that has a completely edible skin.
The fruit, called the mongee banana, is produced using the 'freeze-thaw' method, whereby bananas are cultivated in temperatures mimicking conditions of the ice age.
To achieve this, the research farmers first freeze the banana saplings to -60C, then thaw and replant. The change in temperature encourages the banana plants to grow at a rapid rate over the course of four months, resulting in a sweeter product that is 100% edible. The process is also completely void of any chemical or pesticide interference or genetic modification.
The skin of the mongee banana is high in vitamin B6, magnesium and tryptophan – a strain of serotonin that is said to aid sleep.
This process not only eliminates waste but also allows for growth of the crop in cooler climates, potentially reducing food shortages in the future, according to D&T.
For earlier iterations of next-gen natural produce, see Strange Fruit.
Faced with the ever-increasing global issue of non-biodegradable waste and limited resources, a growing number of designers and researchers are developing sustainable material alternatives using industry waste. Here, we highlight exciting projects combining food industry byproducts with innovative material developments.
Expedia-owned global travel comparison site Ebookers.com has launched a new immersive online travel-planning tool to help consumers choose destinations according to what most stimulates their senses.
Taking users through seven elements of the holiday experience (including mode of travel, relaxation, and food and beverage preferences), the SenseSational tool asks them to select from four image and sound combinations for each, choosing the one that appeals most to their senses.
This can be done using real-time facial recognition (through consumers' computer cameras), whereby the application tracks users' faces as they hold their gaze on their preferred option.
Using this information, the tool sorts the user into one of four travel 'tribes', including The Adventurer, Culture Collector, Sun Seeker and Bon Vivant. It then suggests key destinations that may be of interest.
According to Mark McKenna, commercial director at Ebookers.com, "SenseSational mimics this emotive storytelling and analyses the way we engage with certain textures, tastes and sounds, giving us an insight into how technology will continue to shape the consumer journey and help us form completely tailored travel experiences, engaging our senses every step of the way."
Since its launch at the beginning of December, data from the tool has found that of 8,000 users, 27% desired the adventure-packed, adrenaline-induced outdoors, while 12% craved the culture associated with local communities and 10% were most attracted to the 'finer things' such as high-end dining and luxury hotels, putting them in the Bon Vivant category.
See Designing for Loyalty and Luxury Travel Developments for more on emotive travel tech. Meanwhile, The Empowered Customer Journey, part of our Future Guest Industry Trend, tracks new booking and travel processes.
British craft brewery BrewDog has collaborated with North London-based environmental charity 10:10 Climate Action to launch a beer that raises awareness of global warming.
The new beer contains ingredients sourced from areas that are most badly affected by climate change, including water and cloudberries from the arctic ice caps.
Dubbed Make Earth Great Again, it takes aim at US president Donald Trump's attitude and policies around climate change research, including his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The bottle's label demonstrates this point, featuring an illustration of a polar bear fighting a robot version of the president.
BrewDog founder James Watt said: "Beer is a universal language, with the capacity to make an impact the world over, so we decided to make a statement and brew a beer that could have a direct, positive impact on climate change through supporting an organisation making a difference." The new beer can be purchased at BrewDog's 50 bars worldwide or from the brand's website, with all proceeds going to 10:10 Climate Action.
This is the latest example of how food and hospitality brands are taking a stand, launching products and services that make a political statement. For more recent examples, see Hospitality Brands Promote Political Activism and Hotel for Activists.
See also Culinary Provocateurs, Hospitality with Heart and Brands Take a Stand for a cross-industry perspective on this direction.
The US branch of French luxury alcohol brand Moët Hennessy has launched a new educational 'skill' on Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant Alexa.
Bottles and Bubbles allows users to learn more about Champagne and party hosting across six topic areas. These include the basics of Champagne tasting, food and Champagne pairings, and Champagne-inspired playlists and ambient sounds to match the drinking experience.
Similarly, French alcohol conglomerate Pinot Ricard has created a skill for the e-tail giant's new digital assistant device the Amazon Show, which incorporates an integrated screen. What Cocktail? suggests cocktails that can be made with the ingredients the user has at home via video recipes, as well as 'hacks' and drinks for special occasions.
"Voice-activated products are changing how we interact with technology," Pinot Ricard's head of digital Sille Opstrup told British trade magazine Drinks Business. "And with voice-led searches already up to three times quicker than text-searching, and experts predicting 50% of enquiries will be made this way by 2020, now is the time to start connecting with audiences using this platform."
For more on how to effectively utilise the digital assistance space as a brand, see Advertising In the Alexa Era, part of our Invisible Marketing Industry Trend. See also Expedia Partners With Amazon Echo for another recent example of a clever branded Alexa partnership.
Meanwhile, Activating At-Home Foodies explores new kitchen tech and cooking behaviours, and DIY Mixology tackles amateur cocktail culture.
British alcoholic confectionery brand Smith & Sinclair has launched an experiential retail concession in UK department store John Lewis’s London flagship. Built around discovery, the installation taps into the rising trend for explorative, self-steered brand spaces, as discussed in Rise of the Exploratorium.
Smith & Sinclair’s unique range of Edible Cocktails – jelly pastilles containing half a shot of alcohol – blur the lines between alcohol and confectionery, encouraging adults to ‘play’ again. The hyper-sensorial brand space features an interactive ‘discovery and experience’ wall that diffuses the scents of the Edible Cocktails alongside pastille buttons that release unidentified aromas when pushed. After exploring, shoppers are invited to create their own Edible Cocktails selection – an adult take on classic pick ‘n’ mix sweets – and enjoy a drink at a cocktail bar.
Smith & Sinclair has also launched The Flavour Gallery – a temporary “explosive multisensory art experience” in East London enabling visitors to “hear colours, smell sounds, and taste the paintings” according to London culture site The Nudge. Both concepts hold great appeal for millennials (aged 23 to 36): 72% of US and British millennials say they crave sensorial experiences (JWT Intelligence, 2013).
Spaces that simultaneously contextualise and thrill offer alcohol brands a chance to foster more intimate, controlled dialogues with consumers. As alcohol consumption declines – global sales fell 1.3% in 2016, led by a 1.8% decline in beer sales (International Wine and Spirits Research, 2017) – brands must look for new ways to drive trial and discovery. This is particularly important for brands without a permanent physical presence (see Amazon Explores Asian Alcohol Opportunity).
See also Alcohol Concept Stores.
LA-based start-up Ember has launched a smart mug that allows the drinker to control the temperature of their beverage via a corresponding app.
Devised in collaboration with US design studio Ammunition, the mug uses Bluetooth to connect to the user's smartphone, through which they can set their preferred temperature up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The mug will then maintain that temperature using embedded sensors that relay temperature to a microprocessor in the base. This connects to a heating element to boost the heat or dial it back.
The mug, made from unbreakable double-walled steel with a ceramic shell, automatically turns off if it remains stationary for more than two hours. To recharge, the cup is placed on a matching conductive coaster.
The Ember Ceramic Mug is available via Starbucks and the ember website and retails at $79. For other recent examples of at-home beverage tech, see Ultrasonic Tea-Making Machine, Scented Cup Simulates Flavour and Teforia Smart Brewing Device.