Scientists at Tokyo University have developed early working prototypes of what they call Diet Goggles. In tests at the university the effectiveness of the goggles to help dieters was measured by an approximate 10 per cent decrease in food intake.
It’s a well known feeling to be “over faced” by too much food, reducing your appetite, or too much work reducing your enthusiasm. Using similar psychological effects to aid weight loss, Tokyo University scientists, led by Professor Michitaka Hirose, are making food look much bigger than it actually is. A diner will see their food in much bigger portions than reality so will feel like they have eaten more and feel full quicker. Prof. Hirose puts it this way: “There's this idea that depending on whether the size of portions are big or small, the amount of food people consume changes. So we thought it would be interesting to try out the concept using computers.”
In tests the goggles are indeed effective; when eating Oreo cookies magnified 1.5X times the test subjects ate 10 per cent less cookies before feeling full. Testing their theory the scientists also got people to eat more by reducing the apparent size of the food object in hand. When viewing through the goggles recognised food item sizes are altered yet your hand remains its original size; an important part of the illusion.
The shape altering algorithm currently works best on circular shaped foods, luckily there’s lots of junk food in this category; biscuits, muffins, doughnuts, pies and burgers. The university team hopes to refine the illusion provided by the goggles and make them more and more effective. There were no reports of users biting their own hands, which I would have worried about!
This use of VR diet goggles is an interesting counterpoint to the idealism of Google’s Project Glass. Considering the obesity epidemic facing us in the west, junk food magnification technology should definitely be licensed by Google to use in their project. Would companies such as McDonalds, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts welcome this new technology?