15 September 2011

Dr Charles Spence Interview (part2)

Professor Charles Spence is the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University. He is interested in how people perceive the world around them. In particular, how our brains manage to process the information from each of our different senses (such as smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch) to form the extraordinarily rich multisensory experiences that fill our daily lives.

6.Do you think cocktails and drinks can be as experiential as alot of food has become?

Yes on one hand there is maybe less that one can do in terms of sound and poral somatosensory texture with cocktails. However, on the other hand I think that there is more opportunity to play with colour and other unusual experiences.

I am currently working with a designer and some chefs to see when incongruity is used in food. So far, it seems that unusual colouring, things that do not taste as they look and hence give rise to surprise, is simething that you are more likely to come across in cocktails than in any other are of food or beverages. Think only for example, of blue curacao, orange flavour and blue colour.

7.If you could build a drinking / eating experience from the ground up what would it look like and what would it involve?

What we are really intrigued by at the moment is whether we could take flavour out of the mouth. It is relatively easy for me to give you feelings outside your body, by using a rubber hand, but what would it be like if you could make people experience flavours on their hands say, or on the outside of their cheek?

Already we have been playing a little with a rubber tongue, and can give some people a rubber tongue illusion....Whatever next!?

8.Can you break down the effect and the process involved in how each of our senses interact with one another and how this can then affect how we perceive something?

Yes, in fact the scientific approach that we and our colleagues adopt normally involves breaking the multisensory gestalt (or whole) down to a single pairing of senses at once. Once we understand, or at least once we think we understand, how colour affects taste and flavour say, only then may we bring sound into the equation....building or layering the senses one by one.

9.Do you have a favourite flavour or scent?

Currently, I love pulp by Byredo...Though I am not sure that it would taste as nice in a cocktail as on the skin. In terms of foods or odours, I love some of the exotic scents associated with South American fruits like guanabana that haven't yet made it over to the UK

10. Where do you see the future or scents and drinks heading?

I see a lot of exciting opportunities associated with functional scents. Some of the ideas are similar to those attached with aromatherapy, but the possibility is that synthetic scents may be more effective at alerting us / relaxing us...
I am also very excited about the possibilities associated with the latest innovations in technology. We are currently working on designing a cup that will make a drink appropriate sound only when the glass is lifted and tilted.

As when someone is taking a sip from from a drink. I also have a Japanese professor working in the lab on a virtual reality device that will allow one to change the colour of a drink to any shade you want as you are drinking it! Just possibly this will allow people to change the taste of a drink as they are drinking it simply by changing it's colour.

1 comment:

Kevin Liu said...

neat insights into the future of cocktails. there are some neat ideas about taste perception (with reference to tequila) from Dr. Don Katz here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxM09UCX8NY