Feature

The toothpaste that changes flavor with the weather

It tastes like mint when snow is falling and cinnamon when it's warm outside. Is weather-report toothpaste the wave of the future?

If your numbing morning routine could use a meteorological twist, David Carr, a scientist at MIT's Media Lab, may have the solution: A diverting toothpaste called "Tastes Like Rain" that changes flavor and even color depending on the day's weather forecast. Minty means it's colder than the day before, while cinnamon means it's warmer. Should the paste develop blue stripes, precipitation's on the way. It's all part of the lab's effort to imbue everyday objects with "dynamic properties that can intuitively communicate simple and relevant information." Is this just a novelty prototype, or should Colgate be concerned?

How does it work?
Carr attached a normal toothpaste dispenser to a small "Linux computer that pulls in forecasts, using software to compare previous and current temperatures." The system then dispenses the appropriate amounts of mint or cinnamon flavored toothpaste. The goal is to eventually "create a base station that'll act as computer-powered dispenser with individual tubes available as refills."

Is this really called for?
"It may seem a tad silly," says Evan Ackerman at DVice, "but we're living in a world of information overload, and by embedding data in toothpaste, you're getting info that you need to know every morning without having to turn on the TV or pull up a webpage." Of course, the old-fashioned method of looking out the window still works — "but that's not going to make your teeth any cleaner now, is it?"

Could this be a viable product?

The prototypical "Tastes Like Rain" dispenser has to be plugged in, but Carr says the device could one day "be powered on a low-cell battery." Still, even though there's "much to admire" about this product, says Katie Linendoll at CNET, "we're not sure how much reach Carr's device would have, given today's easy access to weather apps on phones and computers." Still, this "remarkably creative" idea hints at a satisfyingly bewildering future.

Sources: CNET, Time, Gizmodo, DVice

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