How desserts can be used for coding

A new research from Monash University has discovered how desserts can be applied to demonstrate coding.

Researchers say there have been great strides in food experiences like 3D-printed food, ingestible sensors, and utilizing robots with food service and eating with augmented reality. So far, researchers argue, these experiences have only involved using technology alongside existing food.

Logic Bonbon offers a cyber food experience that combines logical operations — the basic building blocks of every digital computer — with edible materials resulting in the creation of a liquid-centred dessert.

A Logic Bonbon system includes a pre-made hollow bonbon along with the option of three different ‘logic gates’ that allow the flow of flavored liquids into the bonbon.

Users can introduce different liquids into the bonbon simultaneously and the bonbon is filled with different flavor and color combinations depending on which ‘logic gate’ was used. The Bonbon also has a transparent top layer which allows the users to see their final results.

Food designer turned human-computer interaction researcher and lead author Jialin Deng from the Faculty of Information Technology’s Exertion Games Lab believes the idea behind the development of the application was to use food itself as an integral part of the computational operation.

“Over the course of three months, we tested the system with 10 participants, allowing them to sense, experiment and ‘play’ with the Logic Bonbons, filling it with different flavor combinations which they could consume,” Deng says.

“Through their interactions with the Logic Bonbons, the participants tangibly experience and learn about logic operations and are essentially creating a mini edible computer that requires an input, performs computation and results in different combinations of outputs while displaying different emoticons and flavors, allowing the user to experience what computation ‘tastes’ like, ”Deng adds.

Co-author of the research and Exertions Games Lab director professor Florian Mueller says the process of interacting with and understanding computation need not be restricted to linear methods.

“Through this project we are illustrating that even food materials and interacting with your meal can be a medium to introduce people to concepts of computer science,” Mueller says.

“It would be great to see this research applied and developed further by creators like chefs, food designers and gastronomists to introduce computational concepts in a fun multisensory way and deliver experiences where diners execute the software that the chef has programmed into their food.”

Possible future research building on this project includes developing more complex computational systems made of food to further explore unique dining experiences while supporting the chef’s craft and expertise.

The Logic Bonbon research findings will be presented during the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems being held in New Orleans, USA until 5 May.


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