Futuristic chopsticks simulate flavor by zapping your tongue with electrodes

smart chopsticks zap your tongue combined procedure

Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe doesn’t seem content with the way we consume food and drink here in 2018. The brains behind a previous project that lets you send lemonade over the internet, and a programmable cocktail glass able to trick your senses into thinking you’re drinking just about anything you can imagine, Ranasinghe displays the kind of disregard for culinary convention that would make even the most avant-garde chef balk.

Now he’s back with a new project — and this one’s a real doozy. Created at the National University of Singapore, Ranasinghe developed a pair of chopsticks and Miso soup bowl able to add seasoning to your food through the use of tongue-zapping electrodes. OK, so sticking a combination of eating or drinking utensil and low-powered cattle prod in your mouth might not be to everyone’s taste (pun intended), but it could actually make you lead a healthier diet. And not just because you’d be too scared to eat!

“Our technology demonstrates a digital flavor augmenting solution by applying controlled electrical pulses on the user’s tip of the tongue,” Ranasinghe, who recently took a job as director of the Multisensory Interactive Media Lab at the University of Maine, told Digital Trends. “A pair of chopsticks and a soup bowl is developed to stimulate the user’s tongue while eating and drinking. To achieve electric taste augmentation, the utensils utilize electrical stimulation via a microampere current and two silver electrodes applied to the tip of the tongue during eating interactions.”

smart chopsticks zap your tongue cutleries

Using the chopsticks, it’s possible to simulate the taste of saltiness, sourness, and bitterness in food — just so long as the chopsticks come into direct contact with the tongue during eating. In theory, this could mean lowering people’s salt intake, since the chopsticks can simulate the taste without requiring any actual salt to be consumed.

“We have developed several form factors of this technology to explore how people intuitively touch different areas of utensils while consuming food and beverages,” Ranasinghe continued. “Our latest study focused on modulating flavor experiences while eating mashed potato, unsalted and salted, and miso soup, [both] diluted and salted. Our findings show that significant increases in perceived saltiness and sourness can be achieved when consuming unsalted mashed potato, and significantly higher ratings of sourness can be achieved when consuming diluted miso soup.”

Now that Ranasinghe is no longer at the National University of Singapore, this particular project has seemingly come to an end. However, Ranasinghe is continuing to investigate cutting-edge technologies for augmenting flavors in his new role. We can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve (or in his kitchen-lab) next!

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Food Research International.

Emerging Tech

Japanese scientists are chewing over an ‘electric gum’ that never loses flavor

Researchers at Japan's Meiji University may have found the secret to unlimited chewing gum -- and it just involves zapping your tongue with electricity. Here's what makes it all work.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Emerging Tech

This gadget lets you sleep on airplanes without snuggling a stranger

Odd gadget, or a hug for your face? The Napup Fly+ is a travel pillow, sleep mask, and personal speaker system all rolled into one, attached to the back of the headrest to hold your head up.
Home Theater

The best MP3 players of 2018

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? No worries. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? Don't sweat it. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.
Emerging Tech

MIT is building a new $1 billion college dedicated to all things A.I.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced a new $1 billion college of computing designed to offer the best possible education to future machine learning A.I. experts.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Emerging Tech

Healthy mice born from two genetic mothers using stem cells, gene editing

Healthy mice have been born from two genetics mothers and later went on to bear healthy offspring of their own, according to a recent paper published by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Smart Home

Vector, the engaging Alexa-like robot, is ready to roam around your home

Anyone who has ever watched Short Circuit or WALL-E has surely dreamed about having a robot buddy come live with them. Finally, that dream is now a reality. It's name is Vector, and it's available now.
Emerging Tech

Ekster 3.0 lets you ask, ‘Alexa, where did I leave my wallet?’

Ekster's newest smart wallet is its best yet. It's slimmer than ever, boasts a neat card-dispensing mechanism, and will even let you know where it is, thanks to smart speaker integration.
Emerging Tech

Johns Hopkins’ lab-grown human retina could lead to big insights

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown human retina tissue from scratch in a lab. The work could help with the development of new therapeutics related to eye diseases.
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.