Japan "diet glasses" are being used as an alternative to traditional dieting and exercise, according to reports. The new device tricks wearers into eating less or more, depending on the settings at the time.
Japan's diet glasses were invented by researchers at the University of Tokyo, and used augmented reality to alter the wearer's perception of food. A plain biscuit can be made to look like a delicious donut, complete with smell and taste. Food can also be enlarged or shrunken for the user, according to the goggles' settings.
"Reality is in your mind," Michitaka Hirose, a professor of the university's graduate school of information science and technology, told Agence France-Presse. "How to fool various senses or how to build on them using computers is very important in the study of virtual reality."
Hirose, along with a team of Japanese researchers, figured out how to send visual signals the goggles see to a computer, then change them there while keeping a person's hand the same size. The results are astounding: 80 percent of the time, users were fooled.
University of Tokyo scientists also conducted experiments to gauge the effect of reality-distorted food on the eating habits of wearers. When biscuits were made to look about 50 percent bigger, volunteers ate 10 percent less of the food.
Similarly, when cookies were virtually shrunken to two-thirds their original size, participants tended to eat more, electing to eat 15 percent more of the food in front of them.
To alter smell and taste, the diet glasses use scents in different bottles along with the virtual reality simulator. With that comes the ability to set the taste for a food being eaten, like chocolate or strawberry flavor.
Currently, the equipment is bulky, and according to Hirose, not ready for commercial use. Researchers would like to find if willing participants could lose weight using the device in the future.