HERI: Japan Introduces Innovative Edible Robot for Human Interaction Studies

HERI: Japan Introduces Innovative Edible Robot for Human Interaction Studies

Scientists in Japan have introduced an innovative handheld device called HERI to explore “human-edible robot interaction.” Powered by pneumatics, HERI marks a leap in understanding how people interact with edible robots.

The researchers created HERI’s gummy candy-like “edible” component using gelatin, sugar and apple juice. They say their observations provide key insights into potential applications in medicine and culinary entertainment.

While studies on edible robots have focused on reduced environmental impact and medical uses, they’ve neglected sensory aspects of consuming robotic parts. This research delves into taste and texture when eating moving robots.

The team evaluated people’s responses to HERI’s movement, sense of it being alive, taste, appetite and guilt when eating it. This establishes groundwork for further studies on human-edible robot interactions.

In experiments, participants perceived greater aliveness from side-to-side versus up-down motion. Taste remained consistent between moving and stationary versions, but perceptions differed when biting and chewing.

The innovative design enabled HERI’s gelatin snack to wriggle via pneumatic actuation. In taste tests, volunteers consumed either the moving snack or a stationary gelatin gummy. Surveys addressed impressions of aliveness, intelligence, guilt and emotional response.

Results showed the meal experience can be impacted by food movement in one’s mouth. Descriptors for texture also varied between stationary and moving versions. As the researchers summarized: “Humans perceive specific impressions when eating moving objects.”

So while applications in medicine and entertainment await, HERI demonstrates that animating what we eat can influence taste, texture and emotions. Further studies promise more insights into this unexplored domain of “eating robot interaction.”