We get it. Our love of drinking water from disposable plastic bottles is a problem, enough of a problem that San Francisco actually wants to ban them. But then what will we drink water out of? Ooho, a biodegradable membrane made of brown algae, is an interesting idea.
Touted by some as an "edible water bottle," Ooho is actually more of a blob. The three London-based design students who developed the technology wanted to make something cheap, sustainable, and durable, so they improved upon a decades-old culinary technique called "spherification." Made popular by the molecular gastronomy nuts at El Bulli, spherification is exactly what it sounds like. Put simply, you turn liquid into spheres held together with a gelatinous membrane.
Ooho is actually not one but two membranes, for durability's sake. The double layer also makes it possible to sandwich a label in between the membranes, though Ooho's not quite ready for the supermarket. The real fun, of course, is trying to drink from Ooho. Since the container is edible, you could just pop the whole thing in your mouth like a bon-bon, but that doesn't seem particularly sanitary. Instead, you can just poke a hole in the membrane with your teeth and suck the water out. Based on Fast Company's test, however, you'll probably end up getting water everywhere.
All things considered, Ooha is a pretty cool, though slightly absurd invention. Will it save the world from living under a mountain of plastic Dasani bottles? Probably not. Does it signal the beginning of a new way to think about food packing? Absolutely.
And Ooha's not the only one onto this edible packaging idea, either. In the next month or so, Wikipearl will make its debut on the shelves of Whole Foods around Boston. The design of these little balls was inspired by biological cells and they actually are supposed to be eaten like bon bons. For now, however, it's safe to say that products like Ooho and Wikipearl are a novelty. An intriguing novelty! But a novelty nonetheless. [Fast Company via PSFK]