By Isha Lodhi
Will we soon be able to lick our smart phones to taste food?
If you have read Roal Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, you might be able to relate this new technology of “digitalized taste” to Willy Wonka’s full meal bubblegum. Willy Wonka’s chewing gum was food-flavoured; you could get it in flavours like spinach, baked potatoes, and enjoy a full three-course meal chewing just one piece of gum.
Willy Wonka’s chewing gum is what I was reminded of when I read about the digital lollipop being invented by Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore. As part of his PhD research, Mr. Ranasinghe has developed a silver electrode that can simulate taste! At present, the team is working on a “digital lollipop” only, but once this is done, it would only be a matter of time when more flavours are on their way!
This is how it works: When the lollipop touches the tip of the tongue it reproduces a mixture of four well-known tastes: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Together these flavors, when produced in various proportions, can create simulations close to real food. Mr. Ranasinghe further explains that the varying alternating current from the lollipop and slight but rapid changes in temperature fools a person’s taste receptors.
If this technology is developed to a range of tastes, it could do wonders in many fields, like the advertisement industry. For people with diabetes and obesity problems, this means the taste of sugar without actually eating it. It might also mean getting a taste of your favourite food any time you want!
Read more about the digital lollipop from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com