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This Electronic Spoon Could Make Vegetables Taste Like Chocolate

Researchers at City University London have created a device that uses low-level electrical currents to mimic sweet and salty flavours.

by Daisy Meager
14 October 2016, 3:51pm

Photo via Flickr user Aaron Tait

Yeah, OK we all know that too much sugar and too much salt is bad for us. But what if you could have your sugar-free cake and eat it? Or you could indulge your crisp addiction without your blood pressure going off the scale?

Thanks to scientists at City University London, limitless sweet and salty foods could soon be a reality. And the key is electricity.

READ MORE: How Scientists Can Fool You into Enjoying Healthy Food by Using Your Sense of Smell

The "Taste Buddy" device, which was unveiled by researchers this week at the The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair in Birmingham, stimulates taste buds when placed in the mouth by using low-level electrical currents that mimic sweet and salty flavours. The scientists say that planting the technology into cutlery, cups, and cans could be a way of encouraging healthier lifestyles.

Well, that's one way to tackle the obesity crisis.

Taste Buddy uses the electric currents to artificially replicate chemical reactions between taste bud receptors to replicate salty and sweet. While other devices have used electricity to influence taste perception in the past, the City researchers want to go one step further and use the technology to change flavour, making tofu taste like steak, or vegetables like chocolate.

At the moment, Taste Buddy looks a bit like a chip attached to a big battery, rather than something you'd use to eat your dinner. But the City researchers are already working on a prototype spoon and hope to have a full cutlery set to market in 20 years.

adrian-cheok-electronic-cutlery

Lead researcher Adrian Cheok testing the Taste Buddy. Photo courtesy City University.

Adrian Cheok, lead researcher on the project and computing professor at City, told MUNCHIES that the project came about as part of his work on augmented reality.

He said: "I realised that people do not communicate only with visuals. They want to touch, taste, and smell. So my vision is to augment all of our five senses with virtual reality. I want to allow people to share taste and smell through the internet."

WATCH: Food Hacking: Electric Fork

He added: "We will enjoy artificial electric tastes as we enjoy TV and cinema for our visual sense. We can watch cooking programmes on TV or YouTube and taste and smell it at the same time."

But until 2036, if you're watching Action Bronson make the world's best sandwich, you'll just have to make do with salivating over your laptop keyboard.

Tagged:
Munchies
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Taste Buddy
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