In the Eye of the Beholder, New “Diet” Goggles

Optical illusions can trick the eye in many ways. Magicians can make people disappear. Painters can create the illusion that background objects appear further away than they actually are. Large objects, like airplanes, appear to move slower than a car beside us even though the larger object is moving faster.

And, according to researchers at the University of Tokyo, optical illusions can help us lose weight as well.

Professor Michitaka Hirose and his team have created a pair of computerized goggles that tricks the subject into thinking an item he/she is eating is larger than it actually is. A cookie looks the size of a doughnut, and a doughnut appears to verge same size as a personal pizza.
“There is the idea that depending in whether the size or portions are big and small, the amount of food people consume change,” Hirose said in an online video. “So web thought it would be interesting to try out the concept using computers.”
While the goggles are rather clunky, results so far have been positive. According to a report published by AFP, people using the goggles ate ten percent fewer cookies when the cookies appeared fifty percent larger. Likewise, people ate fifteen percent more cookies when the cookies appeared two-thirds the real size.
How do the goggles work? Hirose and his team created an algorithm that allows them to magnify the size of the food item while keeping the hand holding it the actual size. The goggles’ camera runs the image of whatever food item is in front of the person to the computer. The software then allows Hirose and his team to magnify or shrink the food item.
While Hirose has no plans to market the goggles, his team is illustrating that magic has always been rooted in science. As Hirose added, “the body can be led to feel artificially full – even by a small portion – based on what your eye sees.”