Health With a Capital H

Going Beyond Google Goggles

June 18, 2012

Contributed by Alexandra Bornkessel

Going Beyond Google Goggles

Photo By Thomas Hawk, Used Under Creative Commons License

You may recall all the fanfare surrounding the possibilities behind “Google Goggles.” The infamous video highlighting what may be behind Google’s Project Glass collected millions of views within hours of its release.

Despite Google receiving approval for the technology’s patents, and Sergey Brin—one of Google’s cofounders who is leading the project—sporting them out to dinner, the goggles themselves may be “less creepy and awesome than anticipated.” While other tech firms race to beat Google to the punch, industry analysts say this is just the beginning as we start to forget the post-pc world and prepare for the post-phone world.

Introducing Diet Goggles

This trend in “augmented reality” has a number of implications for public health—some good and some probably a little worrisome. For example, researchers at the University of Tokyo have invented a pair of goggles that may help people lose weight. How? Eat a regular size cookie while wearing the goggles, and it will look like the size of a doughnut!

"There is this idea that depending on whether the size or portions are big and small, the amount of food people consume changes," said Michitaka Hirose in a YouTube video. "So we thought it would be interesting to try out the concept using computers."

Going Beyond Google Goggles

Early research shows the concept behind these diet goggles works. In experiments, volunteers ate 10% fewer cookies when the cookies appeared to be 50% bigger, according to a report filed by AFP.

A New Outlook on Portion Control

It’s no secret our country faces an obesity epidemic. Currently, 1 in 3 U.S. adults and 1 in 6 U.S. children and adolescents are obese. Obesity is a complex issue with public health implications at the individual, population, and systemic levels.

Say what you want to say about New York City’s possible ban on supersized soft drinks as a way to address portion control. It’s a controversial move with more than half of New Yorkers against it, while the First Lady supports it. What I want to applaud is that we’re discussing it and exploring innovative ways to address obesity. Policy is just one avenue. Technology like the diet goggles could be another.