Hiroo Iwata (JP) Food Simulator

simulation, 2004

Taste is the last frontier of virtual reality. Taste is very difficult to display because it is a multi-modal sensation composed of chemical substance, haptics and sound. There has been much work on visual and auditory displays. Haptic interfaces for the hands or fingers are one of the major research fields in virtual reality. Olfactory display is not popular but flavor can be easily displayed using a vaporizer. Taste perceived by the tongue can be measured using a biological membrane sensor. It can be easily synthesized from five basic tastes. The unsolved problem in taste display is in the area of haptics. There are some projects concerned with measuring biting force. However, no haptic display for the strength of bite has previously existed

We developed a novel interface to display biting force. It is designed to fit the user’s mouth. The haptic device is composed of a 1DOF (degree-of-freedom) mechanism, employing four linkages. The configuration of the mechanical linkage takes into consideration the structure of the jaw. The shape of the linkage enables the application of force to the back teeth. Food Simulator generates force according to the captured force of real food. A film-like force sensor is used to measure the force with which real food is bitten. A force sensor is installed in the Food Simulator and the device is actuated using the force control method. The profile of the biting force of the real food is realized by force control of the device.

Food Simulator can be integrated with auditory elements and the chemical sensation of taste. The sound of biting is captured by a bone vibration microphone and is displayed via a bone vibration speaker. It is synchronized with the biting action. The chemical sensation of taste can be displayed using a micro injector installed in the end effecter. The chemical sensation is synthesized from five elements of basic taste; sweet, sour, bitter, salty and “umami” or savory. Smell is one of the chemical sensations of taste. It can be displayed using a vaporizer.

Hiroo Iwata (JP)

Hiroo Iwata is a professor of the University of Tsukuba, where he is leading research projects on virtual reality and Device Art. His research interests include haptic interfaces, locomotion interfaces and spatially immersive display. He received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1981, 1983 and 1986, respectively. He exhibited his works at the Emerging Technologies competition of the SIGGRAPH and has achieved an unbeatable record of showing a new work every year from 1994 until 2007. He also exhibited his works at the Ars Electronica Festival 96, 97, 99, and 2001. He won Honorable Mentions in Prix Ars Electronica 96 and 2001. He launched the Device Art Project in 2004, which was supported by Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency from 2005 to 2009. The project is still continuing.