The World's First food that pulsates in time with your heart, Valentine's 2021
“The fork was a dining technology introduced to Britain by Thomas Coryat (aka Furcifer) over 400 years ago. This furthers the use of table-centred technology for romance, conviviality and a performative eating experience linked to your bio-outputs. Heart Throbr turbocharges your dessert, by creating a synergy between user, technological device and foods in the most personal way possible – a heartbeat you can eat.” – Harry Parr, director of Bompas & Parr
Eat your heart out – jellies that pulsate with your heartbeat
Benham & Froud, a fine jelly company by Bompas & Parr, launches the world’s first food that pulsates in time with your heart. Heart Throbr, a heartbeat activated web application enables mixed-reality dining with a pumping jelly centrepiece for the finale.
The sensuous digital platform drops alongside the Benham & Froud’s St. Valentine’s release – jelly box-sets of strawberry and elderflower jelly cubes, crystalline moulds to make two 300ml jellies, each serving 2-3 people and 23-carat gold leaf – allowing you to make desserts that throb in the dark. Each order of the ultra-limited release gains membership to the Orb & Cross, a small cohort of jelly aficionados.
Benham & Froud revives the fortunes of the British company, founded in 1785, that once made the ‘Rolls Royce of jelly moulds’, all stamped with a signature orb and cross. Experience a wobble with every heartbeat by programming your heartbeats per minute into Benham & Froud’s Heart Throbr. A pulsating graphic, drawn from the cover artwork of ‘Semi-Precious Stones’ by N. Wooster illuminates your dessert, turning it into an edible metronome of love.
Match a partner’s pulse – innovation at the intersection of technology, science and food
The culinary innovation, which makes jellies pulsate in time with your heartbeat, is a result of a collaboration between Bompas & Parr and Michael Wagner, an experience designer who manages the AV department at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and Ueli Baumgartner, a software developer at Digitalparking Zurich and lighting designer.
The team further consulted UCL experimental psychologist Professor Daniel Richardson. “The heart oscillates in response to our emotions – it speeds up when we’re aroused, such as when we are exposed to a new and exciting stimulus like Heart Throbr” explains Professor Richardson. Physiological synchronisation research shows that peoples’ heartrates sync up when sharing an engaging experience such as this. Low lighting also has a profound effect on romance, with the lights turned down low, the pupils dilate, and the connection grows. The addition of the crystal-shaped jelly will diffuse the heartbeat lights, illuminating your immediate surroundings in time with your pulse.
The multidisciplinary approach places Heart Throbr at the intersection of interactive art, gastronomy, technology and science – a lot to fit on a spoon.
The wobble that woos – a studio of culinary marvels
Bompas & Parr’s innovation kitchen focuses on new product development and regularly prototypes unprecedented foods and technologies. The studio is responsible for:
• A Multisensory Firework show in London where a quarter of a million people tasted fruit-centric pyrotechnics they exploded in the sky
• Cooking with lava - 1.1bn year old igneous rock heated to 1350 degrees Centigrade
• Baking one of the world's biggest cakes – measuring at over 13 meters by 10 meters
• Creating the world's only bar, Alcoholic Architecture, which served a breathable cloud of G&T
• Discovery and development of new foods such as:
– Non-melting ice lollies with pykrete
– Glow-in-the-dark ramen
– World’s lightest meringue with the first edible aerogel
Bompas & Parr’s Southwark studio is comprised of chefs, mixologists, architects, art directors, strategists, specialist technicians and as well as a wormery to help compost recyclables. Benham & Froud is the studio’s recently launched fine jelly company with the first jelly going to Kate Moss.
What’s next for Heart Throbr?
Whilst this version of Heart Throbr is geared to enhancing a romantic Valentine’s meal, future iterations will continue to push the borders of what is achievable at the intersection of food and technology. The studio is exploring how updated versions can improve the savour of food as it is eaten, act as means of dietary support, gamify meals for children and facilitate human connections. Hopes are high for a platform for substantive creative gustatory exploration.
Meals in mixed reality – technology that improves conviviality
According to mobile network testing company Global Wireless Solutions, nearly three quarters of Brits use their phones at the dinner table, with eight in ten of these admitting to getting irritated when they see others doing the same. Phones usually detract from the dining experience, with Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada claiming that “using your phone during a meal could negatively affect your own enjoyment” due to lack of social engagement.
Heart Throbr subverts and solves this dilemma, encouraging users to utilise their device for an enhanced dining experience and greater conviviality. Through mixed reality, a blend of physical and digital worlds, we unlock the links between human, computer, environment interaction and delight.
“The development of the Heart Throbr web application was an interesting challenge and allowed us to investigate the relationship between the digital and analogue world with something as simple as homemade jelly. The aim is to create an intimate connection between ourselves and our very close, digital companions.” – Michael Wagner + Ueli Baumgartner