Nidhi Subbaraman

A View from Nidhi Subbaraman

AR Eyewear Fools Your Belly (and Brain) Into Feeling Full

The headset alters how big or small food appears, and influenced how much wearers ate.

  • November 15, 2012

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?

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from undefined

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.