Meet the “Taste Buddy,” an electronic device created to help kick the broccoli-eating blues.
Researchers from City University London have developed a prototype device that is able to deceive your tastebuds and enhance the taste of food.
It consists of a 2-centimeter (0.8 inches) tab, which is attached to a processing device. By placing the tab on a person's tongue, it’s able to stimulate taste buds and alter the sense of taste through “thermal and electric signals.”
"What started out as a fun engineering experiment has now led to something much more exciting with the potential to have a positive social impact,” project leader Professor Adrian Cheok, professor of pervasive computing at the university, said in a statement.
“The ‘Taste Buddy’ is a great example of skilled science and engineering working hand in hand with a relevant and fun impact. The Taste Buddy could eventually help save lives, by allowing people to switch to healthier food choices,” he added.
It can currently only stimulate sweet or salty tastes. However, the team hopes they’ll be able to fine tune the device to embrace all flavors and tastes. They even predict it will eventually be able to make a piece of tofu taste like steak.
Image provided by City, University of London
This is just the beginning of Cheok and his team’s grand plans. They estimate this type of technology could become widely available in the next 20 years, and could be fitted to everyday utensils such as cutlery, cups, and cans.
In a previous interview with Motherboard in 2013, he explained how he hopes his technology could be applied to create a “multi-sensory internet.” Cheok argues that current online media is purely audiovisual and neglects the vast amount of communication that can be gain through our other senses. He believes this could change all that.
Seems too good to be true? You’ll be able to test out the Taste Buddy at the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair in Birmingham, UK, where it will be on public display between March 15 to 18, 2017.