Museum Virtual Worlds

Bringing Real and Virtual Together

Meta Cookie: Olfactory and Gustatory Augmented Reality


Visitors to the Exploratorium’s monthly evening program series for adults, After Dark, experienced bizarre interactions with their sense of reality at After Dark: Get Surreal on Feb 3, 2010–an event infused with surrealist themes in art, music, and science.

Takuji Narumi, a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo, and Takashi Kajinami, a master course student in the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo tantalized visitors with their interactive experience, “Meta Cookie.” The installation allows participants to don a head-mounted display while holding a cookie that has a 2D marker image burned onto it. A webcam attached to the headgear detects the marker on the cookie while the AR magicians change settings which cause the image of the cookie the person sees through the display to change to a different flavored cookie. Before your eyes, the cookie morphs visually from a butter cookie to a chocolate cookie to a strawberry cookie to a maple cookie to a lemon cookie. Did I mention that tubes attached to the headgear aimed at the adventurous person’s nose deliver scents of the different cookie flavors as the display changes? This remarkable exhibit really pulls at your sense of reality as you nibble on the cookie when it appears to be one flavor and then again as the image and smells change, sensing the flavor as entirely different!

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Meta Cookie at the Exploratorium’s After Dark: Get Surreal event on Feb 3, 2010

Author: Rob Rothfarb

Rob Rothfarb directs Web development at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, a museum of science, art, and human perception. He develops online exhibits, educational resources, and technical infrastructure for the museum. He’s interested in the application of interactive media technologies to the development of dynamic, networked content and media infrastructure to support exploration, communication, and learning. His background includes experience in software development, computer graphics, interaction design, and digital video. Rob’s interest in community and interactive 3D technologies led to work with several pioneering virtual world software companies and to interactive multimedia projects for museums including the National Gallery of Art and the National Constitution Center.

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