News article

Singapore scientists devise sensor to recreate flavors on the tongue

Posted:  Tuesday, January 14, 2014

By RJ Whitehead, 08-Jan-2014

Researchers at the National University of Singapore have found a way to replicate food and drink flavours on the tongue with a virtual stimulator

The brainchild of Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe, who headed the project, the digital device is non-invasive and uses an electric probe to generate signals that are then transmitted through a silver electrode.

Tip of the tongue

Salty, sweet, sour and bitter sensations are produced by touching a probe to the tip of the tongue to produce a simulation of different tastes. By varying the levels of electrical current and the temperature of the electrode, these sensations can reproduce the tastes of different foods and drinks.

Sour, salty and bitter sensations were reported by subjects from electrical simulation, while minty, spicy and sweet sensations were shown through thermal stimulation.

The latter group represented minor sensations, which means that further work is needed to intensify these tastes. The responses also varied between individuals.

Ranasinghe said the team’s work consisted of three aspects. “First, there is the study of electronic stimulation and control of taste sensations that can be achieved through the digital taste interface against the properties of current and change in temperature.

“Then there is the method of actuating taste sensations by electrical and thermal stimulation methods, either individually or in combination. And finally the aim of introducing a practical solution to implement virtual taste interactions in interactive computing systems."

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