ReflectOns are mental prostheses that help people think about their actions and change their behavior based on subtle, ambient nudges delivered at the moment of action. As the world becomes more rich in media, there has been a proliferation of methods via which outside entities can affect our actions and decision-making. This work attempts to harness these techniques and combine them with experimental work in smart materials and ambient interfaces to allow people to benefit from the rich, interactive environment that surrounds us today.
The first ReflectOn design attacks a particular form of overeating that affects weight gain. Humans have evolved to have two forms of signals indicating that sufficient food has been consumed. One of these comes from the distension of the stomach, and gives a sense of fullness. The second is a rise in blood glucose, monitored directly by the brain itself, that gives a sense of satedness. Over time, we have engineered our food to provide better nutrition within smaller physical forms. However, our bodies have not evolved at the same rapid rate as food technology, and as such operate on much the same basis as did the bodies of our hunter-gather ancestors — we tend to eat quickly, lest we become food ourselves. Our work-oriented culture has only further exacerbated this problem.
The fork addresses this issue by providing feedback not based on the tedious calculation of calories suggested by most diet plans, but rather on the rate at which the user eats. By measuring the time between bites and providing subtle haptic feedback when the user is eating too quickly, the fork attempts to extend the time taken for the meal, thus allowing for the blood sugar level rise that secondarily stops consumption in a natural way. While this is certainly not panacea for every case, it does provide a prosthesis that allows us to be mindful of how we eat, and allows us to measure time in an object and linear way — a task at which the human mind is generally quite inadept.