The company Mint Digital sponsors for a 3 month project to be run by graduates with the idea that this team working in an out-of-ordinary environment with access to a lab will come up with something different to Mint Digital’s normal products.
After talking to David about their project I couldn’t help myself from feeling envious of their time with Dough Globe, it sounded as if they had the best of times with this project, outright fun.
The boys starting point was toys and their interaction, as they had stated on their blog logging the experience of the project, “We have been posed to question the fundamental reasons for why toys exist, and analyse the constructs that they exist in. This meant school trips. First up was Hamleys”. You see what I mean about fun?
After settling on four ideas they chose Mr Sourdough, a tamagotchi for sourdough, a toy that will cultivate and help you maintain your starter in good health through the built-in sensors in the globe, these sensors will produce a healthy or not so healthy looking landscape on your computer according to the state of your starter, with interacting games giving it the tamagotchi element.
This globe is aimed at kids. The idea behind Dough Globe was to get kids involved and think about the cycle of food, the growth and decomposition. Tom who has experience of baking sourdough thought the sourdough culture incapsulated this cycle. Their idea was to engage kids, for them to see the benefit of maintaining and caring for the starter would result in them producing a great tasting product.
The team set about creating six starters differentiating them by giving them different maintenance schedule and tasting the loaves each produced. Being that there are many variables with starters they had to settle on a simple factor which could easily be monitored by sensors and that was the production of ethanol. The older the starter was, the more it produced ethanol and consequently produced a sourer tasting loaf.
And for those bakers really interested, the starter kept in the fridge always produced a very sour tasting loaf and David’s description of this starter was “gloopy and elastic”.
The team asked their colleagues to taste the loaves giving feedback for the best tasting loaf, and also what they considered to be the most family-friendly tasting loaf, which coincided with being the mild tasting sourdough.
This Dough Globe prototype is pre-set by the mild tastebuds of a handful of people but no reason why if this went into production the sensors couldn’t be adapted to suit more individual tastes.
What started out as a kid’s toy the team realised by the time they finished and presented their Dough Globe to the public it had a reach beyond child’s play, adults wanted one.
I can see this Dough Globe being the perfect gift for a sourdough newbie, nervous perhaps of keeping their starter in good health, I can recall back to the beginning fearing I was going to let my starter die, I would’ve certainly bought into one of these.
How simple to add the flour and water, the globe mixes it up for you and through its landscape it tells you when you should be feeding it, the greener the landscape the healthier your starter, the browner more arid looking it’s a sign that it needs feeding. Finally a starter that communicates back!
I’m waiting for the next model up, the one that will take away the most monotonous part of sourdough baking, that comes with a flour and water tank attached so that it can feed the starter. David told me they had envisaged a model like that but run out of time. Hey people at Mind Digital – are you listening? There’s a market waiting.