Project Nourished
Project Nourished will let you eat all the steak you want, minus the actual steak.Koikri Lab/ YouTube

A new virtual reality gastronomic experience appears hell-bent on taking all the fun out of food by replacing it with algae jelly and then trying to trick your brain into thinking you're eating something delicious. Project Nourished, designed by LA-based Koikri Lab, is a VR concept that promises to let users "eat anything you want without regret" through the use of an Oculus Rift, aroma diffuser and specially-designed cutlery.

From the looks of things, Project Nourished isn't trying to replace itself as a replacement for food; instead, its creators appear to envision it as a way we can indulge our cravings without having to worry about expanding waistlines. Rather than tucking into a 600-calorie steak, for example, you can instead strap on an Oculus Rift and trick your brain into doing so whilst actually chowing down on some delicious algae and yeast-based jelly. Which, by the way, is also a lot more sustainable. Yummy.

Also included is a specially-designed "gyroscopic utensil", which contains sensors that allows the diner to eat their food within the virtual reality environment. Similarly, a "virtual cocktail glass" is described as "a vessel for beverage and creating simulated intoxication." Thanks to the power of VR users will be able to virtually dine in any location they desire, be it factual or fictional. Koikri Lab even proposes "dining in clouds with Peter Pan in Neverland".

Of course, your brain is a clever organ, meaning it requires more than a little visual hocus-pocus to pull the wool over its eyes. That's where an aroma diffuser and "bone conduction transducer" come into play, the first of which will blast smells in your face while the latter wraps around your ears and mimics the sounds of chewing. The company is making available a range of so-called scent discs, which currently include "Spirits of the Nordic Sea", Charlie's Choco Factory", "Phantasy Zone" and, more inexplicably, "Space Dust" and "Smell of Fear". All can be purchased by companies hoping to experiment with their own computer-generated cuisine.

While bizarre, Project Nourished is at least an example of the new experiences opened up by virtual reality – indeed, it's one of the most interesting uses of the technology we've seen outside of gaming. Its creators also point out that the technology could be used to help children develop healthy eating habits and provide a form of therapy for patients suffering from eating disorders. If Project Nourished does hope to find a niche for itself, we expect it will need to appeal to these more widely beneficial use cases first. Then again, you can hardly call virtual reality porn widely beneficial, and look at how successful that's become.