RMIT researcher Rohit Ashok Khot has found the sweetest way in the world to encourage people to exercise.
He will reward them with chocolate treats made on a 3D food printer and the more they exercise - the more chocolate they get to eat.
RMIT researchers are the first in the world to equip homes with 3D food printers capable of churning out chocolate in a unique experiment to test if people exercise more when rewarded with food treats.
Ten families have been chosen for the landmark study and their homes have been fitted with the latest 3D food printers, worth $6,000 each, for the length of the trial.
Participants are 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 as a reward.
“The more they exercise, the more chocolate is printed out, which they get to enjoy as a reflective reward for 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.’’
The printed chocolate will be personalised to their activity and will take the shape of their name, smiley faces, flowers and hearts.
Khot, a PhD candidate in RMIT Exertion Games Lab, 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.
“Participants will be able to see their chocolate printed out as they exercise and we will study if that reward is enough to encourage people to exert more energy,’’ he said.
“Previous work we have undertaken in the area of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) has created different digital representations with exercise rewards including flavoured drinks.’’
This latest study using chocolate as a reward for exercise is one of several undertaken by Khot, who specialises in systems that transform data from physical activity such as heart rate into 3D printed form.
Khot said it is not a given that people will become more physically active if rewarded with chocolate on tap and he is keen to identify the results in his latest research.
He said visualisation can play an important part in making people physically active.
“Some may see the calorific content of chocolate as not worth the effort to exercise.
“Others may believe that it’s easy to burn those chocolate calories through exercise in which case, a sweet treat is reward enough for exercising.’’
Khot said he likes to make his study and research playful.
He is one of just two students in Australia awarded a prestigious 2015 IBM PhD Fellowship for his work in transforming physical activity data into 3D printed and edible form.