Godzilla (l) and Rodan (r)
Dieting has been much on my mind lately and I am currently "executing against plan," as we used to say in corporate meetings.
I won't bore you with the details, but so far, so good. I'm making progress and am pleased with my improving appearance and the salutary effect my slimming regimen has had on my physical and mental health.
Still, I'm no scientist, just a maladroit craftsman always on the lookout for a better mousetrap, and I'm thinking these two news reports from Japan, which caught my eye yesterday, may just offer the constructive improvements I desire.
So, without further ado, From The Nation That Brought You Rodan and Godzilla:
1. Japan 'diet glasses' fool wearers into eating less
Goggles that trick the wearer into thinking the plain snack in their hand is a chocolate cookie, or make biscuits appear larger have been unveiled in Japan, offering hope to weak-willed dieters everywhere.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed devices that use computer wizardry and augmented reality to fool the senses and make users feel more satisfied with smaller -- or less appealing -- treats.
On one device goggle-mounted cameras send images to a computer, which magnifies the apparent size of the cookie in the image it displays to the wearer while keeping his hand the same size, making the snack appear larger than it actually is.
In experiments, volunteers consumed nearly 10 percent less when the biscuits they were eating appeared 50 percent bigger.
They ate 15 percent more when cookies were manipulated to look two-thirds of their real size.
Professor Michitaka Hirose at the university's graduate school of information science and technology said he was interested in how computers can be used to trick the human mind.
"How to fool various senses or how to build on them using computers is very important in the study of virtual reality," he told AFP.
Hirose said standard virtual reality equipment that attempts to cater to complex senses like touch often results in bulky equipment.
But he said using one or more senses to fool the others was a way around this problem.
"Reality is in your mind," he said.
In another project, Hirose's team developed a "meta cookie", where the headgear uses scent bottles and visual trickery to fool the wearer into thinking the snack they are eating is anything but a plain biscuit.
Users can set the device to their favourite taste so they think they are eating a chocolate or strawberry-flavoured cookie.
Hirose says experiments so far have shown 80 percent of subjects are fooled.
The team has no plans as yet to commercialise their invention, but would like to investigate whether people wanting to lose weight can use the device.
2. Diet Sunglasses Turn Off Your Appetite
You've all heard that joke about a chubby guy or gal being on a "see food" diet. Well, a Japanese company named Yumetai seems to have given some serious thought to the matter, creating dieter's sunglasses with deep blue lenses that make the food you're eating look, well, disgusting.
There's more to it than that - according to Yumetai, there's a scientific explanation behind these sunglasses and the lenses are blue for a very good reason: the color blue acts to calm the brain's appetite center.
At the same time, the lenses block rays of red light which tend to stimulate the appetite. Make sense? Hey, if you're a desperate dieter you'll believe just about anything but if you think about it, there aren't many obese Japanese walking around outside the sumo dojo.
If you want to put the diet sunglasses to the test, you can order them online from the Yumetai website for just 1,890 yen (about $19) plus shipping. The aviator-style sunglasses weigh just 25 grams (about an ounce) and are made in Japan.
Considering the many millions of dollars Americans lay out on diet remedies every year, it may be time for a new approach.
Plus, the fact that many fattening foods already look disgusting doesn't seem to stop those intent on pigging out in style. What have you got to lose? Well just maybe, your appetite!
Are cool blue glasses the key to doll-size Mr. Depp maintaining his sylph-like figure?