I scream, you scream, we all scream for musical ice cream

There’s no denying that eating ice cream makes us happy, but what about ice cream that plays music while we’re eating? Could playful ice cream be the future of our beloved frozen favourite?

Researchers from Monash University and RMIT have developed WeScream!, a sensory ice cream cone that plays different sounds when eating ice cream, adding a multisensory layer to the ice cream experience.

WeScream! offers a digital upgrade through sound that stimulates both happiness and playfulness. The technology acts as an additional component or ‘ingredient’ to the dessert, enhancing the sensory experience and intriguing hospitality groups along the way.

WeScream! combines human-computer interaction technology and consists of two interdependent 3-D printed ice cream cones that allow users to interact with musical sounds or their preferred playlist which is generated through the act of eating ice cream together.

Project lead, Professor Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller, Director of the Exertion Games Lab in Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology (IT), says this technology encourages playful social eating experiences and offers a whole other meaning to sensory dining experiences.

“Our research found that WeScream! facilitated an enjoyable experience for participants eating together, whilst also increasing their awareness and attention to the taste of the ice cream,” Professor Mueller said.

“Along the way, we have also sparked the interest of chefs and mixologists who are looking for innovative and exciting ways to enhance the dining experience for their customers. The technology is relatively affordable to create and we hope to see WeScream! making an appearance in the hospitality industry relatively soon.”

During the study, researchers examined how 10 participants experienced the different auditory interactions made possible by their eating habits. The system generated multiple sounds by connecting the act of eating and listening as part of a social multisensory experience.

Exertion Games Lab PhD Candidate, Yan Wang, explains how physical sensations associated with eating, combined with digital technology, can enhance our everyday eating practices.

“WeScream! offers the characteristics of gameplay where participants can explore different musical sounds or create a steady flow of sounds through the act of eating ice cream. We believe our work will not only help game developers design playful experiences around food but also encourage food designers and chefs to incorporate interactive technology into their practices,” said Yan Wang.

The researchers hope this playful approach to technology will positively enhance sensory dining and drinking experiences.

The WeScream! research paper was published at the 2020 Designing Interactive Systems Conference and won a Best Paper Honorable Mention award.

To read the research paper, please visit here.