Soon, digital lollipop to simulate any taste

Nov 25 2013, 15:03 IST
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SummaryEver wanted to taste mouth-watering dishes on cookery show?

Ever wanted to taste those mouth-watering dishes on your favourite cookery show?

Researchers have developed a digital lollipop that could allow cooking show viewers to sample the dishes on screen - and the device can simulate any taste.

The electrode developed by a team led by a Sri Lankan-origin scientist Nimesha Ranasinghe can produce the taste of salty, sweet, bitter and sour food.

The electronic device is placed on the tongue and works by stimulating taste buds with electric currents.

"We have found noninvasive electrical and thermal stimulation of the tip of the tongue successfully generates the primary taste sensations," Ranasinghe, from the National University of Singapore, told New Scientist.

Signals that reproduce the four well-known major taste components - salt, sweet, sour, bitter - are transmitted through a silver electrode touching the tip of the tongue.

"The system is capable of manipulating the properties of electric currents (magnitude, frequency, and polarity: inverse current) to formulate different stimuli. Currently, we are conducting experiments to analyse regional differences of the human tongue for electrical stimulation," Ranasinghe said while explaining the device on his on-line portfolio.

Digital Lollipop (Electric lollipop) utilises electrical stimulation on the human tongue to simulate different taste sensations.

The taste receptors are fooled by a varying alternating current and slight changes in temperature controlled by semiconductor elements that heat and cool very rapidly.

Ranasinghe believes that the technology could also find medical use.

"People with diabetes might be able to use the taste synthesiser to simulate sweet sensations without harming their actual blood sugar levels. Cancer patients could use it to improve or regenerate a diminished sense of taste during chemotherapy," he said.

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