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March 4, 2015 AT 5:00 am

Your next Dinner May Be Virtual #WearableWednesday

Nourished

It sounds crazy, but according to PSFK, Kokiri Lab is working on combining the tricks of molecular gastronomy with virtual reality. Considering most people can’t even imagine gaming without snacks, it just doesn’t seem to make sense, but move the nachos aside and listen up. For many people, calories are the enemy, meaning obesity, diabetes or even the danger of allergic reaction. That’s where Project Nourished, as it is called, gets its foundation.

Project Nourished re-examines modern methods of dietary consumption by allowing participants to experience fine dining without concerns for caloric intake or other health related issues.

Imagine me sitting down at a plain table wearing a virtual reality headset. I choose a dining location that best suits my mood–like a vegan cafe in Paris for a Mousse au Chocolat. I pick up a special fork that can react with a motion sensor to know when food is entering my mouth. Suddenly there is the aroma of cream and chocolate and I can feel it in my mouth. Oh wait, I’m at a vegan restaurant, so that’s not even real cream I’m smelling, but it doesn’t matter anyway because it’s all virtual. Pretty cool, right?

NourishedSensors

I’m sure you are with me until you get to the thing that is actually in your mouth. Obviously a sensor can’t trick an empty mouth, and that’s where the hydrocolloids come in–foods like algae, pectin, vegetables, fruits and seeds.

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.

I find it an interesting take on the consumption problem going on, but some find it not to their taste. Certainly you can argue that this is merely using substitution and not really addressing the emotional issues of the problem. However, ask doctors these days if people are willing to change, and most will tell you “no”. So, perhaps this is a more realistic answer, if not the best one. Project Nourished includes a future forecast of 3D files to print food, almost like modules for a custom meal. Considering 3D printing is already working with foods, this is not so crazy. If anything, perhaps the materials and textures will become more varied. Maybe this will even become a food replicator like the one on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The real question is whether it will lead to more dysfunction in eating behaviors by becoming addictive like other games. Would it be hard to remember when you last ate nutritious food? Only further experimentation will tell. In the meantime, I’m still thinking about my vegan chocolate mousse.

Interestingly, Kokiri Lab is a newer hackerspace in LA geared just to wearables. They recently held a wearable design workshop and also have wearable meetups. If I wasn’t east coast based, I would certainly be hanging out there. I’m sure you VR fans will be checking it out. You might also want to check out our DIY Video Goggles. 3D print them yourself and have fun with games (and yes, you can have snacks).


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