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Virtual Reality Hopes to Bring All the Joy of Food But None of the Calories

Scientists behind the project hope the tech will help "curb unnecessary cravings."

Project Nourished

Is Virtual Reality the future of food? One company certainly hopes so. According to Wired, Project Nourished — headed up by creator Jinsoo An — believes they have found a way to trick taste buds. The "gastronomic virtual reality experience" uses head-mounted displays, food science, motion sensors, and 3D printers to transform "Jello-like wedges" of agar and pectin into dishes like a "sumptuous slice of apple pie." The company hopes that one day diners will be able to don a virtual reality headset and "be transported to a place" where the agar and pectin mixture will simulate the taste of a gourmet meal.

Simulating food is a tricky challenge, however: To prevent users from expecting foods to taste and feel "a certain way," An made sure to make the faux foods "look considerably different from the actual foods." He explains that the VR simulator won't make the foods taste exactly as they are expected to. Another challenge is that of texture. Currently, An and his team are working to recreate the mouthfeel of items like steak and sushi "using natural, low-calorie ingredients." As for the smells associated with food? An's system deploys an aromatic diffuser that turns "scented oils into pleasing aromas."

An's goal is to ultimately "provide a savory simulation without spiking blood sugar." The company's website notes that Project Nourished hopes to help those with conditions like diabetes, allergies, and cancer to enjoy the foods they had to give up for their health. Project Nourished wants to help hungry dieters "curb unnecessary cravings," too. So rejoice, soon you might be able to eat pie and bread on that low-carb diet after all.