The trial aims to study if printing chocolate is enough to make exercise enjoyable, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology researcher Rohit Ashok Khot told Mashable Australia, as well as explore new ways to represent corporeal data.
The subject’s daily exercise data will be tracked, and each evening, chocolate will be printed on the EdiPulse 3D printer reflecting the energy they expended over the entire day. If the user is on track with his fitness goal, for example, he will get a smiley face printed. If he is sedentary, he will get a frowny face. Flowers and messages such as “Well done, Mate!” can also be printed.
“We think of it as positive reinforcement,” Khot said. “It’s not directly looked at in terms of the size and quantity, but the more exercise you do, the more cheerful and beautiful the chocolate becomes.”
Khot’s work is focused on exploring new ways to represent information, including in an edible fashion. “People like to track their exercise data using things like Fitbits, but that only gets seen in numbers and graphs on a screen,” he said. “Now that we can track exercise, why not connect it to an edible material?”
And don’t worry, the subjects can’t run their way into obesity — the dark chocolate treats will be restricted to around 30 millilitres a day. Khot hopes the study will be completed by September.
So, why chocolate? While everybody enjoys chocolate, it’s the best possible food that can be printed today from a technical standpoint. In the future, Khot hopes to be able to print healthy snacks.
There could be commercial applications for his research, but for now, Khot is hoping to inspire others to look differently at food printing and consider new ways of quantifying the self. “In the future, people could have such appliances in the home and we are exploring how they could use them,” he added.