What if food could talk?

15 weeks with, Lene.R, Yuanrai.L, Joanna.P
2015 | Umeå Institute of Design
Collaboration with Microsoft



Have you ever wondered how the food you’re eating is affecting your body? Is tiredness only a product of poor sleep? Or is it perhaps to do with with the lack of potassium in your diet?

Getting feedback on our eating habits isn’t something we really think about. We do get it, but often years too late. While we can try to take matters into our own hands, without a lab, a doctor and someone to decrypt the information on the back of food packaging, it’s not a task for the faint-hearted.


Nume is your personal nutritionist who is there to help you navigate through a world overcome with advice, statistics and rules. Accompanying meaningful feedback on your blood levels with actionable advice, Nume motivates you to make changes to your eating habits and in the process educate you on what nutrition means to you.

’50% of Americans think it is easier to do their taxes than to figure
out how to eat healthfully’


Recipients of the above awards

Hacking your body, a system overview


Key to this concept was the system feedback loop. Most services are linear, restricting their on-going use. Nume is very conscious that our eating behaviour should be a continuous dialogue and learning process.

Nume's ecosystem


Creating a personalised culinary experience

The problem with many of today’s systems is that they’re made using anthropometric principles - find the size that fits the most. However, this means that users are boxed into categories. This is a very static approach, making it hard for these systems to connect to the user on a personal level.

 With better data analytics, we are now presented with the opportunity to try and personalise these systems so that every user, whatever their background, feels accounted for.

Creating behavioural change

How do we encourage people to make changes? To continue using Nume? Our research indicated that one of the biggest barriers to changing dietary behaviours was seeing progress.

 The patch is the first touch point. To reduce screen time the patch’s surface mimics the skin. If it is smooth everything is going well. If it is rough then something isn’t right and the user should look at the application.

Onboarding service blueprint




This project was quite unique in that we spent over 5 weeks conducting ethnographic research under the supervision and guidance of Dr Brendon Clark and Dr Aditya Pawar. Our initial brief was to simply investigate a community and see where it goes... We chose to explore communities that live off the land. Nume was the result. 

As follows is a quick overview of our process and what it lead to!  

Initial adventures and interviews

Visiting a Yves and Ylva, a couple that built their own house and grows much of their own food. They also import for their community much of the eco grains and foods they use in addition.
For one family, we were invited to go skiing followed by a nice long Fika (coffee)
Joanna getting some good old fashion cow licking! 
Niklas and his wife are owners of an ecological restaurant that is very focused on trying to show people how important food is to their daily lives. It was so inspiring hearing their story!
A friend from school comes from a family that cares for Highlander cows (cover photo above).
To communicate with our supervisors, and help condense our work, we created daily one-shot-videos. Here is an example of one late on Friday night after a hectic day of interviewing... we're all quite tired! 

Pivoting from research to design direction

Probing and workshops were key to pivoting from research to strategy and vision. I won't go into much detail here, but in essence, probing was used to explore certain alternative realities about food, and workshops were used as a means to then test with users certain product ideas based on these alternative realities.

'exploring a world where feedback about our food intake was an everyday data stream to inform our eating habits'

This probe was set up to explore how people might like to engage with their food. What became clear from our conversations, was that people didn't really want to grow their food, but rather understand how it affects them. 
This workshop was an introduction to our ethnographic findings. We presented our stories and insights in the form of audio and tactile information.
The result of the probing!
2016-04-25 14-37-02
In this workshop, we created personas for each person to play. Then using the rules of the world, they had to have conversations around food. This was generated some great provocations and inspired us to continue in Nume's direction.

If you'd like to know more about this project, feel free to reach out @ 

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