April 23 - Tokyo University scientists are developing what they call ''diet goggles'' designed to trick dieters into eating less. When worn over the eyes, the goggles digitally enlarge doughnuts and other foods, making consumers feel as though they are full. Rob Muir reports.
In the laboratory of Professor Michitaka Hirose, size matters. If your chocolate doughnut doesn't seem big enough, he can make it bigger. And by making it bigger, he says he can help you lose weight. SOUNDBITE: PROFESSOR MICHITAKA HIROSE, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO, SAYING: "There's this idea that depending on whether the size of portions are big or small, the amount of food people consume changes. So we thought it would be interesting to try out the concept using computers." Hirose's diet goggles use a shape-altering algorithm to make items of food appear larger than they really are, relative to the consumer's hand. A digitally enlarged Oreo cookie, can make the mind believe that one is enough to satisfy hunger, an assertion Hirose says is backed up by tests. When asked to eat normal-sized cookies, Hirose says test subjects could manage up to a twelve in one sitting before feeling full. When the cookies were digitally enlarged one and a half times in a second sitting, the test subjects on average, reduced their intake by more than than ten percent. SOUNDBITE: PROFESSOR MICHITAKA HIROSE, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO, SAYING: "First the computer must recognise the food type. After that, the aim is to reduce and enlarge the size of the portion while the hand holding it stays the same -- that's the point of our technology." Hirose says the technology is far from perfect. Oreos are one thing but odd shaped foods like bananas will confuse the system. Eventually though he hopes to integrate all five senses into a fully immersible virtual world of food consumption, giving consumers greater control over what and how much they eat. Rob Muir, Reuters.