Virtual Tasting Menu

by Jimmy Tang, Michael Kahane and Winnie Li


Virtual Tasting Menu is an immersive experience that explores the concept of combining virtual reality with food. It is a series of collaborative experiments by three Parsons MFA Design and Technology students—Jimmy Tang, Michael Kahane, and Winnie Li. It includes three multisensory experiments—Conceptual Taste, Taste The Smell, and Taste Bugs. Our goal is to provide an opportunity to reimagine food through virtual reality technology.

Conceptual Taste is a study of the differences between the taste of food and the perception of food. We tend to develop a concept of food by its appearance, smell, taste and texture. By covering the tester’s eyes and crushing the food samples into powder, we attempted to isolate taste from sight and mouthfeel. Our goal is to learn more about how people conceptualize food by relying on taste alone.

Taste The Smell is an experiment on how smell influences the perception of food. Using an electronic armor diffuser, we filled the space with a strong scent. We fed our tester food from a variety of tastes and textures to see if our tester could identify the food under the influence of an unusual smell.

Taste Bugs is an immersive virtual reality experience using an Oculus Rift and an EMG muscle activity sensor. We invite people to consume edible insect inside the virtual reality world. Edible insects are packed with nutrients, and the most environmentally efficient animal protein source on the planet; however, not many people dare to try eating bugs or have an opportunity to do so. Inside the Oculus Rift, a plate of bugs is served; meanwhile, in real life, we feed our tester with traditional food that tastes similar or has a texture similar to particular kinds of bugs. Through this experiment, we investigated the degree of influence that sight has on our experience of eating food.

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