When you sit at your desk on a Thursday afternoon and find you’ve lost twenty minutes to a fantasy about cheese toasties, you’re not alone. Now as if a sub plot from Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, those fantasies have become a [virtual] reality. U.S. company Project Nourished, have created an augmented reality technique that enables the user to experience any type of food, wherever they are. Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the future.
Cast your minds back to that scene in ‘Hook’, where Peter Pan (aka Robin Williams) uses his imagination to transform an empty dinner table into a feast for kings. It was that very scene that birthed the idea behind Project Nourished. Developers in the company have managed to compile something that works with each of the five human senses to trick your brain into thinking you are actually eating a proper meal.
First of all, the company win a million points for creating one of the most badass looking VR-headsets going. That’s before even considering it can immediately place you in the restaurant of your choice. Then throw in an aroma diffuser, which uses heat and ultrasonic sounds to store a huge number of smells. This is positioned on your table and the fumes enter the room. Following?
Next up is the bone conduction transducer (?!) which essentially enhances and mimics the chewing sounds from your jaw to replicate the sensation of eating actual food. To complete the look (and physical feel), you’ll also use a special augmented ‘cocktail’ glass and cutlery.
Do you want the red or the blue pill?
Scientists at Project Nourished have developed a small edible cube made of algae boasting zero calories and under VR’s influence, can be transformed into literally anything imaginable. As an alternative, you can also consume a bunch of veg yet convince your brain that you’re munching cheeseburgers. Creator Jinsoo An explains:
“The food will taste different depending on what we’re trying to replicate. A cube is just one of the many forms it could take. We’ve explored replicating existing food but we’ve also created new kind of food types that cannot exist in reality, just by tricking your senses.”
The principle idea behind Project Nourished is not merely to transport you into a food experience that can only be found in your dreams. They aspire to deliver huge health benefits.
“At this time, the technology is too young to challenge ‘normal’ foods in terms of the satisfaction it offers. But there are certainly other applications in health and entertainment that we can fulfil.”
What Jinsoo refers to are food related diseases such as diabetes, allergies or strokes, which can allegedly be prevented via the technology. By making your food appear bigger than it actually is, people with eating disorders are enabled to control their diets with greater attention.
Naturally, there’s plenty of scepticism surrounding the development. Is the process actually enough to trick the brain? Will the stuff actually taste half decent? And is bone conduction transducer even a thing?! The team at Project Nourished are confident that this is going to change the food industry and the way we look at food.
We’ll stick to real food for now.