Scientists Create Weight-Changing Glass That Alters the Drinker’s Perception of the Beverage

A team of Japanese researchers recently unveiled a weight-shifting contraption that attaches to a glass, making it feel heavier or lighter than it actually is, thus altering the drinker’s perception of the beverages they are consuming.

It has long been known that we consume foods and drinks with a number of senses, not just our taste buds. There is a reason why chefs go through the trouble of developing eye-catching plating techniques, or why specialty cafes rely on the scent of freshly ground coffee to attract patrons. But did you know that the weight of the glass can influence the drinker’s perception of the beverage they are drinking. A team of scientists at the University of Tokyo proved this with the help of an ingenious device that changes the weight of the glass depending on the position it is in.

Masaharu Hirose, a student at the the University of Tokyo, came up with the idea for the weight-shifting glass after touring Europe and noticing that wine tasted different from country to country, but also that the design and weight of the tasting glasses changed also. He theorized that the weight of the glass could play a part in the way we experience various drinks, and set about proving that in an experiment.

With the help of school adviser Masahiko Inami, the Japanese student built a bizarre-looking, handheld contraption that consists of a cupholder and a mechanism that uses a motorized sliding weight to alter the center of gravity when someone tilts the glass to have a drink. As the weight slides forward, the glass feels heavier in the hand, and when it slides back, it feels lighter.

I never would have imagined that the weight of the glass would have a huge impact on the perception of taste, but according to a short video presentation of Hirose’s ingenious experiment, some people felt that the increased weight of the glass when using the device greatly improved the taste of whatever they were drinking.


“It became delicious, I feel like it’s tasting better,” one of the test subjects said. “I felt strange.”

Masaharu Hirose and Masahiko Inami will present their findings in details at the upcoming Siggraph 2021 conference in August.

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