Scientists in Australia have launched an unusual experiment. They are fitting ten Melbourne families with 3D printers that print chocolate treats in their home.
There is only one rub. In order to get the 3D printer to work, the subjects have to exercise first.
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology researcher Rohit Ashok Khot told Mashable Australia that the chocolate will directly reinforce the test subjects’ exercise habits. If they work hard and raise their heart rate, they will get a smiley face. Those that slack off get a frowny face.
Considering that even a frowny face of chocolate can still taste delicious, Khot explained the goal was not to simply link more exercise with more chocolate.
“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 also sees the 3D printer as an extension of the Fitbit craze and one more way to interact with a user’s fitness goals.
The researcher also said that beyond exercise goals and rewards, the experiment is aimed at considering how a 3D food printer may be used one day in the home.
“In the future, people could have such appliances in the home and we are exploring how they could use them,” he added, stressing that the possibilities of 3D food printing goes far beyond 3D printed chocolate rewards.