The gadget comprises wired electrical parts stuck to the inside of a banana skin, which is then sewn back together around the fruit and strapped to a runner’s wrist – thereafter it shows their race time, heart rate and tweets from supporters, as well as when to eat the next banana.
Dole Japan trialed the device – yes, it does appear to be genuine – with a runner in the 30,000-strong field that ran in Tokyo the Sunday before last; the multinational company has sponsored the world’s largest city marathon since 2008, and the device marks this tie-up.
'This is no regular banana - it's the best companion for any marathoner!' Dole
“Engineers have tested it day in, day out to come up with this amazing device. This is no regular banana – it’s the best companion for any marathoner,” the narrator in Dole’s video (below, and also on the Dole Japan website) states.
“You can strap it around your wrist, and run with it until you finish the race. And understanding the wearable fad occurring around the world, this device can also detect your running time, heart rate, and advise you when to eat bananas during your run.
“After your cross the finish line, of course, you can eat it too. The world’s first edible wearable debuts at Tokyo Marathon 2015,” the narrator adds.
Hiromi Otaki, senior manager of marketing at Dole Japan, told gadgets site CNET.com that the banana was powered by a small battery unit that incorporates small LEDs and other electrical parts.
Refuel and get race information
So you can refuel and get race information via one power-packed yellow package. Pretty nifty, huh? But not everyone is impressed. Perhaps unfairly, one YouTube user accuses Dole of ripping of a wearable tomato video (see below) by Maywa Denki X Kagome.
This clearly tongue-in-cheek video shows an over-engineered mechanical device that straps to a runner’s back and delivers tomatoes to his mouth.
The video vaunts the sports nutrition potential of tomatoes for high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, and identifies bananas as the fruit that has prevented the rise of the tomato. It's a fairly amusing skit. Perhaps only in Japan, eh?
Both videos show that the barriers between an imaginative invention that borders on art, and a truly useful device can be fairly fluid; such devices and digital campaigns are primarily useful as a source of PR for companies like Dole.
Yet while it’s difficult to see the Wearable Banana mixing it in the mainstream, its invention does raise interesting questions around the incorporation of smart electronics within the food and beverage space - suddenly food might mean more than just nutrition.
If we can provide consumers with data via food packaging, then why not go one step further and use the food itself? Of course, the banana skin itself (as a natural form of packaging) are already straddling this divide. Perhaps edible electronics are next frontier!
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