More lolly for the music industry

An ice lolly that plays your favourite tune by sending vibrations through you jaw is the latest way to enjoy music By Douglas Friedli

Until now, music systems have tended to concentrate on the ears rather than the mouth. This simple state of affairs may end soon, however, following the development of a frozen juice lolly which uses sonic bone conduction to play tunes.

The `Juke Pops’ system consists of a set of clear fibre optic cables; a stereo; and a set of lollies consisting of a stick, a hard chocolate centre and an outer layer made of frozen juice or cocktail. The cables are attached to a table, designed to make the experience a social event. Each user connects a lolly stick to a cable, which vibrates, transferring music from the stereo to the lolly. When the user bites on the lolly, music travels through the jawbone into the user’s ear. This produces a bizarre sensory experience in which music and flavour appear to be coming from the same place at the same time.

The system was inspired by the example of Beethoven who, despite being deaf, was able to hear notes by plucking a piano string which he held against his jaw. It was devised by Dominic Pullen, a design student at the Royal College of Art in London, who created it for his final year project, who says: `I am interested in using new technologies to create unusual experiences. I don’t think our senses of smell and taste get used enough.

The effect is enhanced with light which shines through the fibre optic cable, illuminating the lolly. Pullen sees the most likely buyers for the system as fashionable venues such as Japanese restaurant `Yo Sushi!’, where customers pick their food from a conveyor belt.

The next stage will be to let users choose what type of music they want to listen to. Radio identity tags in each lolly would tell the stereo which tune to play, allowing particular songs to be linked to particular flavours – Walking on Sunshine for an invigorating cocktail, and Easy like Sunday morning for the hangover cure the next day, for example.

At the moment, however, Pullen is waiting for the price of the tags to fall sufficiently to make them cost effective.

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