Nimesha Ranasinghe has seen the future, and it is licking glass.
He’s a researcher at the National University of Singapore leading a team creating a digital lollipop you can actually taste, The New York Times says. His goal is to advance the technology to the point that consumers can lick their phone screens or TVs to taste the virtual objects that appear.
In some ways, it sounds similar to research that would allow people to feel the realistic texture and contours of a digital image’s surface. That technology works with low-voltage electric pulses. This one does, too — but they’re going to your tongue, not your finger.
“We have found noninvasive electrical and thermal stimulation of the tip of the tongue successfully generates the primary taste sensations,” Ranasinghe told New Scientist. Primary taste sensations include salty, sweet, sour and bitter. He hopes to add the ability to simulate smell and texture, too.
While this kind of technology is in its infancy, it could eventually have a variety of applications, including:
- Tasting food on cooking shows to decide if you want to make the dishes shown.
- Sampling food online before ordering it.
- Delicious advertisements.
- More immersive movies and games, where you can taste what the on-screen actors do.
- Diabetics could enjoy sweet tastes without hurting their blood sugar levels.
- Cancer patients could use it to recover some sense of taste during chemotherapy.
- It could be used as a weight-loss aid.
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