LA-based designer Jinsoo An has created a virtual reality dining experience that uses Oculus Rift headsets, motion-detecting cutlery and aromatic diffusers to mimic the taste, texture and smell of different foods.
Called Project Nourished, the experiment allows participants to virtually taste foods they may not usually be able to eat due to dietary requirements and allergies. For instance, a person with a nut allergy could experience the sensations of eating a product containing nuts.
The headsets create environments based on real locations, such as Tokyo's city centre, while aromatic diffusers replicate the smell of the meals, which include steak, lasagne and pie. The 'food' itself is derived from agar, konjac jelly and gum arabic (low-calorie emulsifiers), and evokes the flavours of the foods.
Sensory dining experiences – where taste is heightened by sound, smell and colour – are becoming increasingly popular as brands attempt to enhance food flavour and provide unique dining scenarios.
UK carrier British Airways recently launched a sensory playlist that pairs songs with specific in-flight dishes in order to draw out flavour. Meanwhile, The Auricle, a sonic art gallery in New Zealand, has opened a bar that matches wine lists to music playing within the space. For further insight into sensory dining experiences, see Digital Dining and Colour-Coded Dining.