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Scientists create weight-changing glass that changes the drinker’s perception of the drink

A team of Japanese researchers recently unveiled a weight-shifting device that attaches to a glass, making it feel heavier or lighter than it actually is, altering the drinker’s perception of the drinks they consume.

It has long been known that we consume food and drink with a number of senses, not just our taste buds. There’s a reason chefs go to the trouble of developing eye-catching plate techniques, or why specialty cafes rely on the smell of freshly ground coffee to attract customers. But did you know that the weight of the glass can influence the drinker’s perception of the drink they are drinking. A team of scientists from the University of Tokyo proved this using an ingenious device that changes the weight of the glass depending on its position.
Masaharu Hirose, a student at the University of Tokyo, came up with the idea for the weight-shifting glass after traveling around Europe and noticed that wine tasted different from country to country, but also that the design and weight of the tasting glasses also changed. He theorized that the weight of the glass might play a role in how we experience different drinks, and set out to prove it in an experiment.

With the help of school counselor Masahiko Inami, the Japanese student built a bizarre-looking, handheld device that consists of a cup holder and a mechanism that uses a motorized sliding weight to change the center of gravity when someone tilts the glass for a drink. As the weight slides forward, the glass feels heavier in the hand, and as it slides back, it feels lighter.

I never thought the weight of the glass would have a huge impact on the perception of taste, but according to a short video presentation of Hirose’s ingenious experiment, some people believed that the increased weight of the glass greatly improved when using the device the taste of what they drank.

“It turned out delicious, I have the feeling that it tastes better,” says one of the test subjects. “I felt strange.”

Masaharu Hirose and Masahiko Inami will present their findings in detail at the upcoming Siggraph 2021 conference in August.

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