Right now virtual reality is like a toddler learning to walk, each step is new and exciting. While there seems to be one breakthrough after another, the one that caught our eye is virtual reality eating.
Just imagine, you’re looking at one of those ridiculously good Youtube food channels, your mouth is salivating and you go in to take a bite. Instantly you’re hit with the flavors, smells, and textures you see on the screen. This scenario may soon be a reality.
So, how are the flavors getting from the screen to our mouths? Researchers at the University of Singapore have devised a way to simulate taste by getting participants to touch their tongue off a thermoelectric element. The thermoelectric element rapidly heats or cools and this simulates different tastes.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo are developing technology which will simulate another aspect of eating – the bite. Electrodes were placed on the jaws of the participants and, depending on the frequency and length of the electric pulse, it felt like they were chewing different foods.
These technologies are still in the early stages of development but the future looks bright. Companies such as Project Nourishment are already looking at ways of combining these methods to get the most authentic experience.
There are huge benefits to this technology, apart from just letting us experience the mouth-watering food we see on Youtube. Hopefully, this technology will be able to help people who have dietary restrictions or problems with their weight.
Older people often prefer the stronger tasting foods, due to their sense of taste deteriorating. This can lead to them overusing salt, which has various negative health implications, including high blood pressure. Using electrode-enhanced spoons may be the answer to reducing a high sodium intake. These spoons would enhance the flavors of the food, like an electronic seasoner.
If this technology progresses to the stage where it can accurately emulate the taste and sensation of eating food, it might be hard to get some people back into the real world.
What do you think, would you give this technology a go? Let us know in the comments section below.