Fresh off their Lexus Design Award, Skipping Rocks Lab – a seaweed-tech start-up – is ready to take its edible water bottle to the consumer marketplace. With a mission to find a waste-free alternative to plastic bottles and cups, London-based Skipping Rocks created Ooho! – a clear, edible membrane that you can pop into your mouth. It’s a sphere that taste’s just like water.
“Water becomes its own water bottle.”
According to a recent CNET article, the chemistry behind Ooho is called Spherification. Originally developed by Chef Ferran Adria at the elBulli restaurant in Spain, “Spherification uses the reaction of two common chemicals to form a tough, waterproof membrane around a liquid, such as water.” Adria used his kitchen as a lab, come to find out. With the hopes of creating a new type of cuisine that “provides unexpected contrasts of flavor, temperature, and texture,” he used Spherification to make unusual dishes. Called ‘Modernist Cuisine,’ Chef Adria created an olive oil caviar dish that bursts in your mouth when you bite into it. This same technology is being used to make Skipping Rocks’ Ooho water bottle. Thank you Chef Adria. “We’re applying an evolved version of spherification to one of the most basic and essential elements of life—water,” says Rodrigo García González, who designed the Ooho with fellow design students Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche.
“Don’t recycle water bottles, eat them instead.”
Using Sodium Alginate, a long-chain carbohydrate derived from seaweed, Skipping Rocks adopted Chef Adria’s molecular gastronomy techniques to create Ooho! Soluble in water, biodegradable and entirely natural, Skipping Rocks’ proprietary membrane is cheaper than plastic and can form around any beverage (water, O.J., soft drinks, spirits). Since water bottles are notorious for using non-renewable resources, Ooho is positioned to be an eco-friendly alternative.
“This edible water blob could replace water bottles.”
According to CNET, the strange chemistry of Spherification “creates a gel – a semi-solid membrane that water can’t pass through.” The sphere will suspend the water in place, but it can be easily pierced with a bite. As you can see, Chef Adria’s bite-sized bursting caviar idea is rather groundbreaking, especially in the culinary world.
“Drunk your water? Now eat the bottle it came in.”
By using water and a couple of tasteless chemicals, Skipping Rocks created a waste-free way to carry, drink, and dispose of water. Ooho has the convenience of a water bottle all while limiting its environmental impact. Part of the Climate KIC start-up acceleration program founded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), Skipping Rocks Lab has been awarded the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the 2014 World Technology Award (environment), the 2015 SEA Award, the 2016 UK Energy Globe Award and just won the 2017 Wired Retail startup competition. Backed by a host of awards and a proprietary material that can create a spherical packaging mode of seaweed, Skipping Rocks is poised to completely disrupt the bottled water industry.
Unfortunately, Ooho is not quite ready to take over the plastic water bottle. Come to find out, Skipping Rocks’ gel membrane is rather fragile – breaking down over time. Not as durable as plastic, Ooho would be compromised if shipped, stored, or packaged. But make no mistake, the team at Skipping Rocks Lab is off to a promising start and they have fulfilled their mission to find a waste-free alternative to plastic bottles. One day you will be able to buy a drink that comes in its own edible glass.