News: Augmented Reality Can Make Good-for-You Food Look More Attractive, Making It Easier to Eat Well

Augmented Reality Can Make Good-for-You Food Look More Attractive, Making It Easier to Eat Well

Augmented reality seems to be the talk of the town lately, with everything from glasses to furniture stores prepping to implement exciting, new AR technology. Well now, it looks like even our food is getting a makeover for the augmented reality future.

Dr. Katsunori Okajima, professor at Yokohama National University, spoke at the "Hacking flavour perception: Design, technology, & gastrophysics event" in Oxford on March 27, about his experiments in visually modifying food to make more people want to eat it.

Image by Bettina Mangiaracina/Food Navigator

According to Will Chu at Food Navigator, Okajima believes changing the color of certain foods to make them brighter or more appealing could improve the diets of consumers by encouraging the brain to see the augmented healthy foods as more delicious-looking.

If more people visually saw healthy food as attractive they would eat it, leading to a more nutritionally balanced diet.

In a study by Okajima, published in the journal Brain and Cognition, he calls this "eating with our eyes"—using visually beautiful images of food to satisfy hunger. The study goes on to document how the brain and the images we present to it are "intimately linked to acquisition of food" and that there are "dramatic physiological and neurophysiological changes seen in response to food images."

I'm sure we all can relate to scrolling through feeds of Instagram posts about food and feeling "visually hungry." This is similar to what Okajima studied and found to be true, and what the team of researchers promptly pointed out as "our growing food porn addiction."

Image by Bettina Mangiaracina/Food Navigator

Using an AR head-mounted display to view the food in front of you, Okajima details the way in which one can modify food texture and color in real time while still keeping the original food item intact. He believes using a head-mounted display, or possibly even projection mapping, could be the "future of the food industry."

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are already aware of the potential of AR to lure buyers into consuming more of their products. Pepsi brought its packaging to life at its 2014 football campaign "Now Is What You Make It" with the AR app Blippar. Coca-Cola also used augmented reality to promote products in 2015 with the Coca-Cola Magic App.

All in all, the future of dieting may be a bunch of us wearing AR headsets to view and eat what looks like a piece of gluttonous cake, when in reality it's a much healthier alternative.

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Cover image by Yannig Van de Wouwer/Flickr

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