The toothpaste in question was created by the MIT Media lab as your own personal early morning weather station–it changes flavors based on the day’s forecast. So when you’re half asleep and drooling white toothpaste foam out of your mouth onto your clean shirt, at least you know which jacket you should bring to cover that toothpaste stain.
Researchers Henry Holtzman and David Carr designed the toothpaste, which mixes different flavors to alert you to the weather outside. More cinnamon means it will be warmer, more mint means colder, and a blue stripe means it will rain. Brilliant, guys, but who wants to have mint and cinnamon toothpaste mixed together? That’s just wrong.
A computer checks the weather, then regulates the amounts of each of the toothpaste components. Every day is a flavor adventure! (Unless you live in Los Angeles.) Both this toothpaste and the “proverbial wallet” the team invented that made headlines a few weeks ago belong to a new category of “super-mechanical” products, which take something mundane and give it dynamic data-analyzing abilities. But would we use it if it shows up on the shelves?
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Image: MIT Media lab
White noise doesn’t just drown out other noises, it drowns out taste too, says research in the appropriately named Journal of Food Quality and Preference. This could help explain why airplane food tastes so bland, why we eat more with the TV on, and why space tourists need such strong beer, the study’s first author told BBC News:
“There’s a general opinion that aeroplane foods aren’t fantastic,” said Andy Woods, a researcher from Unilever’s laboratories and the University of Manchester. “I’m sure airlines do their best – and given that, we wondered if there are other reasons why the food would not be so good. One thought was perhaps the background noise has some impact.”
To test this theory Woods had a group of taste testers eat a variety of foods with head phones on and piped in either white noise or no sounds. The white noise not only made the food less tasty, it also increased the perceived crunch of the food. The noise could be drawing attention away from savoring the food, Wood said to BBC News:
“The evidence points to this effect being down to where your attention lies — if the background noise is loud it might draw your attention to that, away from the food,” Dr Woods said.