Digital Simulator Lets You Taste Without Food

11.21.13 Andy Cush

Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a taste simulator that can purportedly fool your tongue into tasting things that aren’t there. Using electrodes, it tricks your taste buds into sensing the four major flavors–sweet, salty, bitter, and sour–and uses them in combination to mimic the taste of particular foods.

Watch it in super awkward-looking action above.

The team, led by Nimesha Ranasinghe, seems to focus largely on video game and virtual reality applications. “In a gaming environment we could come up with a new reward system based on taste sensations,” Ranasinghe told New Scientist“For example, if you complete a game task successfully, or complete a level, we can give a sweet, minty or sour reward. If you fail we can deliver a bitter message.”

They also say the simulator could use to provide sweet sensations without raising blood sugar for people with diabetes, or to create a “digital lollipop.” Think of everything else, though: taste-based digital art, continuously morphing tastes through gradually changing the electrode’s output, taste-o-vision in porn regular movies! The possibilities are endless.

From the video above it’s clear that the taste synthesizer is far from consumer-ready. Users have to hold the electrodes to their tongue and keep their mouths open as they use it. However, Ranasinghe and company say it could soon be redesigned to be more streamlined.