Now you can taste food in virtual reality, because of course you can

VR food
Credit: TijanaM /

When you read that virtual reality can allow you to taste and chew without physically eating things, you inevitably come to one definitive conclusion: we are going to have as much fun with VR as we have with the Internet of Silly Things (IoST).

Apparently, the University of Tokyo has managed to simulate taste and the sensation of chewing using VR. The experiment uses sensors to do the job. A cooler sensor can produce the sensation of mint, warmer and you get spicy. Electrodes and haptic feedback give you the sensation of chewing.

A fantastic achievement. But the real question is: why?

Perhaps, as the video explains (rather on the back foot), you can use such a system to cut down on sugar and sugary drinks. Sceptical we may be, but if you want to cut down on sugary drinks, you should probably just, er, cut down on sugary drinks.

The team at Disruptive.Asia immediately came up with a much better application: the restaurant menu.

If this VR application becomes as sophisticated as presumably it one day will, then you can, finally, taste a menu before making a booking. Add it to Tripadvisor (other travel guides are available) and you can try foods when you are abroad without having to commit to actually going and eating the stuff.

One result of this is that, as well as wandering about talking to our devices (speech is, apparently, the next great input device), people will be seen wandering about licking them too.

Which could be quite off-putting.

The slightly more serious question is whether there is an end point for all this AI-powered VR technology. Presumably if you get enough nutrients through a patch that releases them automatically, you can decide whether to have a virtual meal or not.

No more dirty dishes, no more kitchens, no more, wait for it, connected kettles, fridges and anything else that you need to prepare food, but don’t need to be connected.

Presumably, also, there will be no need to go to work, if there is any work here to be done. We can all work in ‘real’ virtual teams, in the ‘same’ real, virtual room.

It is, actually, all a bit scary and all a bit too science-fiction-becomes-science-fact. And we are not sure we have thought through the consequences of VR, AR, AI, robots or anything else for that matter. Mind you, it keeps us from pondering the more real consequences of elections and referendums and such.

Next time: some doctors are calling for death to be reclassified as a curable disease.

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