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Of all the diet tricks out there, Tokyo researchers may have hit upon the most devious: just lie to your brain.

A group at the University of Tokyo is developing an augmented reality system that will alter a diner’s perception of the size of food on their plate, and in turn influence how much they eat.

That’s because our food cravings seem to be determined, at least in part, by how our meal looks,Takuji Narumi, one of system’s builders, explained to Diginfo: “We found that when food looks bigger, you feel full right away, but when it looks small, you don’t feel full even if you eat a lot.”

In their demo video, a person wearing the AR headset sits in front of a blue screen holding what looks like an Oreo. He sits still and stares at it, and the Oreo appears to grow in his hand (a laptop to his side lets the audience follow along).

A dozen subjects tested the system, Narumi says. When their food appeared 1.5 times its natural size, the testers at 10 percent less. On the other hand, when researchers “shrank” the food to two-thirds its natural size, their subjects ate 15 percent more.

The setup is a bit cumbersome to use at the moment, but the goal is to spruce it up and slim it down so similar headsets can be used at the dining table. Healthy food will be programmed to appear smaller, and less healthy dishes will look bigger than they really are. Baby carrots anyone?

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Credit: Flickr user Dylan Luder

Tagged: Computing, Communications

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