Project Nourished Is a Virtual Reality Based Solution for Healthier Dining
Technology plays an important role in health care and nutrition. There are many technological equipment, devices, gadgets, tools, and methodologies employed in medicine to ensure the health or provide treatment to those who encounter illnesses or injuries. However, when it comes to food and nutrition, technology arguably has not offered anything revolutionary for several decades now. It would have been great if someone invented a device that enables “remote taste testing” or at least remote “smell testing” since the technology for sending scents as messages is already a reality.
Now, something interesting has been developed. A new gastronomic and nutrition experience is set to be created through Project Nourished. This endeavor aims to harness advances in technology to create enhancements in dining experiences and nutrition. It is a combination of technologies that make up a system capable of offering new gastronomic satisfaction while creating the possibility of health or nutrition benefits. The technologies involved include virtual reality, motion sensing, an aromatic diffuser (scent release device), and 3D printing. Project Nourished is essentially a virtual reality enhanced dining experience wherein you can eat good food without going through hassles of tedious food preparation (or paying for expensive chef-prepared dishes) but you can still (supposedly) expect a satisfying dining experience.
Inspiration and Purpose of the Project
The creators of the project say that it was inspired by one scene in the film “Hook.” This scene was when Peter Pan learned to use his mind to enjoy a sumptuous meal by imagining food magically appearing on an empty table. The project was initially broached as a joke but it was eventually pursued hence the existence of Project Nourished.
Obviously, the purpose of having Project Nourished is not just to reminisce some dream some years back. According to the creators, Project Nourished is set to become useful in helping people with various eating and nutrition problems. It is touted to be a solution for those who want to enjoy the food they used to enjoy but are no longer able to enjoy such food because of health limitations. It is claimed to be useful in addressing or at least getting around health problems like anorexia, bulimia, allergies, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even cancer.
How It Works
Project Nourished works by appealing to four basic senses: sight, touch, taste, and smell. To do this, a number of devices are involved. For the sense of sight, the VR headset Oculus Rift is used. For the taste and touch senses, food detection sensors and motion sensors are used. On the other hand, an aromatic diffuser is included in the system to simulate the expected smell of the food being consumed.
Basically, Project Nourished makes you eat food that offers the amount of calories, nutrients, and taste you want but are not in the form you have been used to. This means you can eat steak that is not really a steak. You can enjoy all the sweets and pastries you’ve always wanted without worrying about the excessive sugar and calorie consumption because what you will be eating are not the actual sweets but other other kinds of edible matter made delectable with the help of virtual reality and devices that influence the perception of texture, taste, and aroma.
Of course, there will be real food involved here. It’s not that the person eating with the Project Nourished system will simply be consuming something imaginary or virtual. However, the food here will be mainly hydrocolloid gums that only vary in shape and color. Hydrocolloids will be mixed with the desired flavor, scent, and textures to copy the perception of the desired dish. They can be quickly produced through 3D printing.
The system isolates various flavor compounds and recreates their tastes and textural profiles to mimic the experience of eating the actual food set in by the virtual reality setup.
So far, there haven’t been that many actual tests that demonstrate how well Project Nourished emulates the experience of good dining. It’s difficult to conclude if it can really substitute for a real dining experience with real meat, vegetables, pastries, and other types of food involved. Since it is not widely available yet, most of the feedback will likely be based on a few people’s comments. On the other hand, Modern Farmer criticizes the concept of Project Nourished, asserting that it attempts to ruin food pleasure. Nevertheless, Project Nourished can be considered a promising idea. Certainly, the concept that has been made public for now is not that compelling but it is worth pursuing to some extent.