Hear the taste: Finnair create in-flight soundscapes to enhance flavours
Have you noticed that aeroplane food never tastes very good? This may not be the fault of the airline. Thanks to 2014 research by cross-modal researcher Professor Charles Spence, we know that many things affect our sense of taste on flights: Lack of humidity, low air pressure, and 85 decibels of background noise all affect how we experience food and drink. To complicate matters, not all flavours are affected equally: Some, like curry and lemongrass, are more intense in-flight, whilst others, like salt and sugar, are numbed.
This poses a problem for airlines, who have to modify recipes to include more salt or use more "vibrant flavours". Finnair and digital agency Mirum have come up with a unique audio branding solution. Working with China’s MasterChef Steven Liu and molecular gastronomy professor Anu Hopia, they created a set of on-board soundscapes designed to enhance the taste of their food. Each of Liu's dishes has its own unique soundscape.
These soundscapes were crafted from the sound of Nordic nature. Hopia's knowledge of cross-modal research then provided scientific guidance to ensure the soundscapes. In addition, Finnair also used advanced image recognition software to create an interactive app that interprets a photograph of food and offers a customised soundtrack to accompany the dish.
Whilst audio branding has become more prevalent for airlines in recent years, this is the first time that sound has been used in such a way. So far, this advanced exercise in audio branding has had positive results for the Finnair brand. Roughly 250,000 Finnair passengers will be able to enjoy the in-flight soundscapes in 2018, and brand awareness has risen by 51%.