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Hear the taste: Finnair create in-flight soundscapes to enhance flavours

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.

Hear the Taste audio branding | Finnair’s on-board soundscapes and image recognition software

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%

Does sound affect your taste? Test it for yourself!

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