Til bevillingsoversigt

Virtual and augmented flavours: Extending human flavour perception via novel sensory inputs

Carlsberg Foundation Young Researcher Fellowships

What

The principle of multisensory interaction is well-demonstrated in the concept of flavour, a complex synthesis of the senses of taste, smell, the trigeminal system, touch, vision, and audition. The project aims to develop a unified psychological, behavioural, and neurological framework of human flavour perception which takes into account both information coming from the food and from the environment.

To conceptualise the merging of sensory information coming from the food itself and from the environment, I define a framework of virtual and augmented flavours, whereby digital or physical sensory cues can either enhance what is already present in the food (augmented flavour), or introduce new flavours not in the food (virtual flavours).

Why

Eating is the most life-critical multisensory experience we encounter on a daily basis. Besides the food itself, the contribution of sensory information from the eating environment has however been widely neglected and under-exploited in answering the essential question of why people eat what they do.

By using novel sensory inputs offered by virtual and augmented reality, the project will make substantial contributions to basic science, in terms of determining how the brain integrates information across various sensory modalities to form our emotional and cognitive responses to food. Results from the project can be applied to the design of future foods and eating scenarios to promote healthy, sustainable food choices and eating behaviour.

How

To maximise fundamental research impact, we will combine psychological, neurological, and sensory research methods, conducted both at AU’s iSENSE Centre and through collaboration with partner institutions in Denmark and abroad.

Specifically, the objectives are;

  1. To create novel virtual and augmented flavours through the use of visual, auditory, and haptic stimuli in mixed-reality scenarios
  2. To validate these flavour experiences with physiological and neurological measurements
  3. To develop an interactive citizen science platform on which to disseminate our findings and to inform new studies.

SSR

In a time of diet-based public health crisis and need for sustainable food sources, this project will revolutionise the design of future foods and eating scenarios. By creating virtual and augmented flavours, we can make healthy and sustainable food more appealing to consumers. Therefore, we will contribute to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goals within the scope of Goal 3 (Good health and well-being) and Goal 13 (Responsible consumption and production).

In addition, the success of augmented flavour systems would be a building block for the much-needed sensory substitution system for the chemical senses. Although millions suffer from smell/taste loss, such a sensory substitution/enhancement system does not yet exist.