What if I tell you that you don’t have to settle on fantasizing, drooling, and slobbering on those heavenly food pictures or mouth-watering lemonade on the social media anymore! Instead, you can virtually taste the food and drinks without consuming them! Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have come up with a truly innovative technology, as they take the sense of taste to a marvellous digital level.
The researchers at NUS were able to closely replicate real lemonade taste by digitally measuring the RGB color and pH sensor in the glass of lemonade. This data was then sent via Bluetooth to a smart tumbler rim, with the receiver coated with silver electrodes. These electrodes can cleverly simulate different tastes like sourness, bitterness, etc. by sending frequency pulses of 800 Hertz to your taste buds.
The smart tumbler is also equipped with a bunch of LED lights that reproduce the color of the drink while giving a cloudy mist of white in case of lemonade. Thanks to the combined light visuals and electrified sensations, you will get the same taste and sense as if you are enjoying a fresh glass of lemonade.
The study was presented and tested at the Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodies Interaction in Yokohama, Japan this March. Some participants were given both the real lemonade and the simulated one. Participants struggled to differentiate between the real and the simulated ones, with the cloudy virtual lemonade appearing just as realistic as the original one.
Drinking didn’t help either, although some participants reported that, but only after being told the difference between the real and the digitally produced lemonade. The scientists suggested that it might be because,
“the water might be weakening the electrical signals on the tongue, and cranking up the strength of those pulses could help close the gap”.
The experiment concluded that there are no significant differences between the perception of real and virtual lemonades, thus validating the virtual food technology.
The current system can’t transmit the full flavor profile of a drink for now, but the team plans to add other functions as well.
“Unless you simulate olfaction, true flavour cannot be reproduced,” says Amol Bhondekar at the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation in India. We’re working on a full virtual cocktail with smell, taste and colour all covered. We want to be able to create any drink,” says Ranasinghe.
A very significant benefit of this technology would be to virtually recreate and enjoy your favorite (and fatty) drinks without drinking down any dangerous chemicals and calories in the real world.
Win-Win situation for all!
You can read the full study here via ACM Digital Library.