Photo: Julia Ebeling
Eating guilt-free and without damaging your health: Project Nourished
Extra cheese, please!
What if we could eat just about everything, without ever having to worry about calories or health consequences? Project Nourished, which provides a gastronomical virtual reality experience, could make this wish come true. Thanks to VR goggles and other devices, users perceive jelly-like cubes from the 3D printer as mouth-watering dishes straight from a gourmet’s kitchen.
Photo: Julia Ebeling
Jinsoo An, a designer and technologist from Los Angeles, is the project’s founder and explained its possibilities during his visit to Futurium: “We believe this experience could benefit people who are affected by obesity, diabetes or allergies.” With this technology, users will no longer have to deny themselves certain foods for medical reasons. This also applies to tasty but unhealthy food – goodbye calorie counting!
To make this work, Project Nourished fools our senses: VR goggles lead users to believe they are dining at the most beautiful places in the world, enjoying sushi in a Japanese garden or pizza at the Fontana di Trevi. And what about dinner in a fantasy world in the presence of unicorns? No problem whatsoever. With a special fork studded with sensors, users pick up nutrient-enriched cubes in this virtual environment.
An aroma diffuser and a so-called ‘bone conduction transducer’ simulate taste, smell and touch in the users’ brains. While the smell of yeast dough and tomato sauce is wafting around users’ noses, a device wrapped around their jaws mimics the sounds of chewing. Crispy pizza crust guaranteed.
It’s hardly surprising that with such an ambitious project so many disciplines are involved: more than 50 engineers, food scientists, architects, cooks and designers have been working with An on this invention. In this video they explain their work:
And how are users responding to this virtual dining experience? Jinsoo An tested it initially on friends: “Surprise was written all over their faces,” says the designer. “None of them had ever eaten like this before. It takes a little while to get used to the situation.” An is convinced that the possibilities of virtual reality can influence our eating behaviour, not to mention the health aspects. The technology enables users to sit at the same table with their friends on the other side of the world.
In addition to this social aspect, the designer also brought into consideration the phenomenon of photos of wonderful food being circulated on Instagram and other social channels, where everything on display looks fresh, colourful and appetising – even though reality is often different. VR is able to satisfy precisely this need for stimulation.