Photo: The Spoon

They say that before you even take a bite of your food, you eat first with your eyes. Panasonic seems to be really taking that idiom to heart with the new product from its innovation incubator GameChanger Catapult.

DishCanvas is a smart plate (no, not that kind of smart plate) equipped with a display which can project moving images. It’s controlled through a smartphone app, through which you can select your desired pattern, texture, and movement to be projected on the dinnerware, as well as any desired transition effects. The dynamic image loop is then “played” on the DishCanvas plate.

We got to check out DishCanvas’ prototype in Tokyo this week at SKS Japan. The plate is made up of a glass top, a display, and batteries. Eventually the display technology will be built into the plate itself, but for now it’s pretty low-tech — essentially just an iPad slide underneath a corresponding dish. The GameChanger Catapult team who showed off the DishCanvas told me that they’re also hoping to make the images interactive, so you could theoretically rearrange images or even play games while you eat.

As I noted, DishCanvas is currently just a prototype. But the team member I spoke with told me that Game Changer Catapult is already in early talks with Disney to use the plates in their parks for children.

Which, to me, is a pretty smart use case. What kid wouldn’t be more likely to eat their veggies if they placed on a plate displaying life-like versions of their favorite Disney characters?

I could also imagine DishCanvas being used in fine dining. For example, a fancy Michelin star restaurant could create custom plate displays to communicate more information about the ingredients used in each dish. Maybe a rare steak would be served on a plate bearing a moving image of rustling grass in a field where the cow once grazed, or a grilled fish could be placed atop a display of ocean waves.

DishCanvas corresponds to a new movement of augmented dining which tackles not just the taste of food, but the entire eating experience. From scotch tastings enhanced with VR to leveraging sounds  to change the flavor of food, companies are experimenting with ways in which technology can enhance our meals by appealing to all five of our senses.

Here at the Spoon, we cover lots of technology aiming to optimize the way your food tastes. But it’s good to remember that smell, sound, touch, and sight play a role in how we eat, as well.

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