Project Nourished uses VR to let us eat anything without regret

[From PSFK, where the story includes more images]

Project Nourished

Virtual Reality May Enable Us to Eat Anything Without Regret

Project Nourished aims to reduce obesity and food related illnesses with substitute foods and virtual tricks of the mind

By Kiran Umapathy on January 22, 2015

In a creative new use of technology, Los Angeles-based Kokiri Lab is in the development stages of what it calls a gastronomical virtual reality experience. The idea, called Project Nourished, would replicate foods high in calories with substitutes, while the eater experiences a virtual reality where they consume the originally desired food items.

Interestingly, the idea was inspired by the film Hook, starring the late Robin Williams. Project Nourished shares the story on its website:

In the fall of 2014, a group of our friends got together for dinner and started to joke around with the idea of recreating Peter Pan’s imaginary dinner table. A few days later, I saw my step-dad looking pretty grim after not being able to eat the foods he used to enjoy – due to diabetes. As someone who has allergies to gluten and soy, I was able to relate to what he was going through. I then asked myself, “Would it be possible to imagine having a feast just like Peter Pan did without really eating?”

The technology behind the idea includes a VR headset, food detection sensor, motion sensor and aromatic diffusers, all critical to simulating a realistic dining experience and duping the brain into thinking the food being eaten is the food viewed on virtual display.

Users will also be able to select a preferred dining environment. “Our perception of a meal relies upon different sensory input derived from the visuals, flavors, textures and scents of what we eat,” the project’s website explains. “By isolating various flavor compounds and recreating their taste and textural profiles – coupled with virtual reality and aromatic diffusion – we can mimic a surprisingly broad spectrum of foods.”

The physical food is made from hydrocolloid polymers and gums which contain ingredients derived from algae, seaweed, fruits, vegetables, seeds and microbials. The low caloric value of the substance supports the project’s goal of reducing the intake of excess calories.

Project Nourished believes it has the potential to make a dent in obesity and help people avoid food-related sensitivities and illnesses.

In the near future, we may expect the ability to 3D print foods designed for VR experiences. Project Nourished hopes to offer a menu of downloadable files and refillable cartridges available through online retailers. Those interested in project updates can sign up for email updates on the Project Nourished website.

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