Tongue electrode lets you taste flavor that isn’t there

(Credit: National University of Singapore)

What if you could play, say, the game Cooking Mama and virtually taste the dishes you make? Or watch “Iron Chef” (still the best cooking competition ever on TV) and taste the dishes alongside the judges?

Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team at the National University of Singapore have built what they call the Digital Taste Simulator, an electrode that sits on the tip of the user’s tongue and re-creates flavors.

It works by sending tiny alternating currents and slight temperature changes into the tongue that fool it into “tasting” four flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. “We have found noninvasive electrical and thermal stimulation of the tip of the tongue successfully generates the primary taste sensations,” Ranasinghe said.

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