Researchers successfully fool human brains to think we're eating

food expiration date clarity delivery
Let’s face it, we all pretty much love food. America as a whole has multiple holidays centered around feasting. This overindulgence for many leads to a bigger waistline, and to an even bigger weight loss industry.

Diets can be hard to maintain, and technology has quickly been trying to catch up by producing wearables, fitness apps, food sensors, and other ways to keep our weight in check. In what seems like science fiction, though, virtual reality may very well be the next option.

The more we’ve used VR, the more we have come to realize that our brains are incredibly easy to fool. Even when the virtual world is rendered with cartoon-like graphics, the brain mistakes this world for reality and responds accordingly. This is why people keep trying to lean on the counter in a game like Job Simulator. Still, our brains are smart enough to know that eating a virtual cheeseburger isn’t the same as eating a real one.

This is where even newer technology comes in. Researchers have found that by applying electrical currents or adjusting the temperature on someone’s tongue, different tastes and food textures can be simulated. According to New Scientist, the strength of the electric impulse is what controls the texture or hardness of this digital food. And by changing the impulse’s duration, the sensation of chewing can be formed. For taste, a sweet sensation can be given by rapidly heating or cooling probes on the tip of the tongue. In a similar fashion, participants reported spicy flavors when the probes were hot and minty flavors when they were cold. All these sensations combined trick the brain into thinking it is actually biting into real food.

Still, we are a long way off from finding this technique used by Weight Watchers, and the biggest hurdle will be convincing someone to choose virtual food over the real thing. The research is intriguing, though, and it may well be taking us closer to the time when a virtual world produces a real solution.

Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Computing

Acer Swift 7 vs. Apple MacBook Air

The Acer Swift 7 accomplishes its goal of being the world's thinnest notebook, and it's well-built to boot. But is that enough to take on the Apple MacBook Air in terms of being the better to actually use?
News

Listen up! White noise device may make VR motion sickness a thing of the past

A simple device that sends white noise vibrations to the inner ear could be all it takes to fix the long-running problem of nausea in virtual reality. The developers are now seeking FDA approval.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?
Mobile

Google Fit app finally gets a widget, among other new features

Google Fit hasn't received any new features since its redesign. This week, the company is rolling some new tools; users will be able to add a widget to their Android home screen, adjust the intensity of their workouts, and more.
Deals

Amazon is slashing its prices on an array of top blenders

Quality blenders from Vitamix to Ninja and more are on sale at Amazon — just in time to gift them for Christmas. They're great for preparing tasty treats, and as a kitchen staple, they make a great gift for the budding chef in your life.
Deals

REI clearance sale extends discounts on Garmin, Fitbit, and GoPro devices

Beyond the things you typically expect to find at REI — like tents, skis, and jackets — there are tons of great deals on quality tech foryour outdoor adventures. From smartwatches to action cameras, here are the best tech deals.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Smart Home

Alexa’s latest skill helps patients manage high blood pressure

People who need some help managing their high blood pressure are getting some help via a new Alexa skill developed in partnership with Omron Healthcare that will work directly with the manufacturer's monitors.
Wearables

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.
Wearables

Our favorite fitness trackers make it fun to keep moving

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Apple Watches and other fitness trackers

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable heart rate monitors from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are popular gifts. Wearables are smarter and more capable than in earlier years. We found the best wearables deals on Walmart.