Australia

Volunteers required for exercise test. Reward: 3D-printed chocolate

Volunteers required for exercise test. Reward: 3D-printed chocolate

Melbourne researcher Rohit Ashok Khot has found the sweetest way in the world to get people to exercise: he rewards others with chocolate treats made on a 3D food printer. The more they exercise, the smoother the chocolate they get to eat. 

Khot, of RMIT university in the city, will be the first in the world to equip Melbourne homes with 3D food printers capable of churning out chocolate in a unique experiment to test if people engage in more exercise when rewarded with food treats.

Ten families will be chosen for the landmark study and their homes equipped with 3D food printers for the duration of the trial.

More exercise, better chocolate

Participants will be hooked up to heart monitors that measure their physical exertion and then transform and deliver the equivalent amount of energy as chocolate piped out of the 3D food printer.

The more they exercise, the better the quality of chocolate will be printed out which they get to enjoy as a reflective reward of their physical activity,’’ Khot said.

Participants will be able to see their chocolate printed out after they exercise and we will study if this new edible mode of representation is enough to make exercise more engaging and enjoyable,’’ he said.

The printed chocolate will be personalised to their activity and will take shape of their name, smiley faces, flowers and hearts.

Hardly harmful to health

Only antioxidant-rich dark chocolate will be used in the study and participants will be restricted to about two small blocks of chocolate.

Khot, from RMIT’s Exertion Games Lab and the Centre for Game Design Research, said his unique research had generated enormous interest. 

Academics are keen to see what more can be done to get people to exercise and to support the experience of being physically active, and food-based representations are the next step in that research.’’

He said it is not a given that people will suddenly become more physically active if rewarded with food, and he is keen to test his latest research.

Chocolate had been chosen as the reward because 3D food printing is a new science and chocolate is already one of the few foods that can successfully be printed out.

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