MOUTH CTRLer / 2016

Mouth CTRLer is an exploration in the future of the mouth, through interactive technologies and prosthetic devices. The project aims to challenge, with a fun and provocative approach, our standardised interactions with digital interfaces and future technological enhancements.

Mouth controllers currently available on the market aim to enable people with severe disabilities and reduced mobility to interact with computer interfaces and navigate physical spaces. Our interdisciplinary team challenged current mouth controller applications, thinking creatively about different ways of enhancing daily activities with mouth-controlled, tech-enabled devices.

As part of the project development we ran 2 hands-on and ‘mouths-on’ co-design workshops that engaged different audiences (local communities of young adults as well as the general public) in uncovering the potential of the mouth and cooperatively design future enhanced applications.

Inspired by cross-modal perception studies, we explored the link between the sensory modalities of taste, texture and sound, transforming scientific findings in an interactive experience. The aim is to highlight the convergence in the mouth of various sensory perceptions and pose the question: could future technologies harness cross-modalism and modulate and enhance our perception through multi- sensory devices?

We developed edible sleeves (lollipops) that plug directly to a bone conduction transducer. The lollipop shape is designed to fit all kinds of mouths and to transfer the sound vibrations from the electronic device to the surface of lips and teeth when users gently bite or rest the lips over the lollipop. The device allows to perceive sounds directly through the mouth rather than through the ears, whilst simul- taneously experiencing a release of tastants.

During the exhibition, visitors were invited to try the prototypes and listen to 2 music compositions while tasting the lollipops. Since the designed experience mostly stimulated the tip of the tongue where sweet and sour tastes are most felt, the lollipops were produced with pure tastants of these two basic flavours.

Each composition was designed in a sculptural manner, producing textural vibrations that resonate on different parts of the mouth with variable intensity. The sounds aim to modulate our perception of taste, creating sharper or duller experiences through the use of selected pure tones (sine waves), filters and pitches.The sounds were developed in collaboration with Dr. Shama Rahman, specialised in neuroscience and complexity of musical creativity.

A collaboration between Francesca Perona, Luca Alessandrini, Dr. Michelle Korda

Special thanks to: Dr. Trevor Coward, Nuala Clooney, Shama Rahman, Lizzie Crouch, Jessie Krish

The project was commissioned by the Science Gallery London as part of the MOUTHY season.


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