Tomorrow our taste will be virtual

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The history of lemonade harks back to ancient Rome. Back then, drinking water was mixed with a shot of vinegar and called “Posca” in the vernacular. Today’s lemonade does not much resemble the original, but it’s still on everybody’s lips – unfortunately with industrial sweeteners and other artificial ingredients.

Genuine taste and its competition

What then would it be like to enjoy lemonade entirely without artificial ingredients? Researchers in Singapore have developed a cup which delivers an authentic drinking experience. It works like this: the tongue is stimulated with a straw. Two silver electrodes on the straw, connected to a battery in the coaster of the cup, touch the tip. Integrated light diodes visually intensify flavor. The combination of water, electrodes, and light provide for the taste experience. The temperature and strength of the electrical current determine the flavor. In a trial, test persons distinguished between sweet, sour, salty, minty, and spicy.

Not just a party trick

Sound fascinating? Of course, because this invention also has a medical use. Cancer patients, for instance, could use it to train their sense of taste, and diabetics, as well as people with dental problems, could enjoy their favorite lemonade and similar with nary a worry. As we see, this invention could lighten many people’s lives. Who knows, perhaps the idea will become so fully developed that we can enjoy the taste of a cake from our computers. Or we might one day be able to share and simulate the flavors of an entire feast via social media. Whatever the future puts on our plates, it will be interesting.




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