Takuji Narumi is utilizing sturdy odors and digital VR overlays to show your mind isn’t as intelligent as you assume.

Filmmaker and meals fanatic Simon Klose has seen some unusual issues in his travels. The Swedish-born director is an everyday contributor to Vice’s meals web site subsidiary, MUNCHIES, and in consequence has skilled a few of the weirdest mixtures of tech and delicacies. This contains every little thing from electrical forks that zap your tastebuds, to laser-cut meat dishes based mostly off of well-liked manga publications. Nonetheless, it’s Takuji Narumi’s “virtual cookie” challenge that actually caught the eye of the seasoned documentarian while on a visit to Japan.  

An assistant professor at Tokyo College’s Cyber Interface Lab, Narumi’s “Meta-Cookie” challenge makes use of a mixture of highly effective scents and virtual reality expertise to “change” the style and size of a standard cookie. The prototype headset, which seems like an adjunct that’d be worn by a Batman villain, options six plastic tubes related to tiny capsules contained in the headset. These capsules pump quite a lot of scents by the tubes on to the topic as they eat a typical cookie, tricking the style buds into considering they’re experiencing totally different flavors. As an illustration, injecting scents equivalent to strawberry or vanilla may subconsciously persuade the mind that the usual cookie at present being eaten really accommodates stated flavors. 

An augmented reality overlay additionally tracks the bodily cookie and replaces it with different cookie pictures of assorted sizes. The expertise is able to altering the size of the pastry, shrinking or rising the digital rendition in real-time. The result’s an experience that may genuinely replicate a set of flavors or parts with out really altering the meals.

“The smell is being pumped into your nose, and it changes very fast so you see this generic cookie become a lemon cookie, then an strawberry one, and so on,” stated Klose. “I hadn’t really understood how your brain is so easy to trick—how you can fool it by going through your nose and eyes. I thought my brain was smarter.”

“When you first see [the device] you’re laughing and telling yourself, ‘I would never use that weird thing, why would I do that?’ But when I tried it on, and I saw a cookie transform into six different tastes, it was a real mind-f***.”

As ridiculous as the present design seems, Narumi believes that the devices practicality is something however. The developer teased a number of potential use-case situations, equivalent to utilizing the size-altering performance to help in portion management. These affected by anorexia might be persuaded to eat extra by digitally shrinking the size of the meals, tricking them into believing they’re consuming much less. The scent-based expertise may additionally assist improve the flavour of in any other case bland meals from areas equivalent to hospitals or homeless shelters. 

Klose believes that if the headset might be streamlined to a extra snug and sensible design the expertise may find yourself being an especially well-liked instrument able to influencing people on a deep degree.

“You could start changing people’s behavior by using these inventions,” stated Klose in an interview with Vice’s Motherboard multimedia publication. “It’s this idea that by manipulating your sense of smell or your visuals, you can actually make a meal taste different. You’re basically adjusting your taste buds by f***ing with your sight, smell, and ears in the future.”

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